An east Clare man who told gardaí that he carried out a number of exorcisms on his then-girlfriend has been cleared of assaulting her.
At Killaloe District Court sitting in Ennis, Shane Gibbons (aged 48) told the court that the injuries caused to his then-girlfriend may have been caused by demonic possession or may have been caused by self harm “but they were not caused by me”.
General Manager at a firm, Mr Gibbons of Ballynagleragh, Ogonnelloe in east Clare denied the charge of assault causing harm to the woman at his home on August 17, 2019.
In dismissing the charge, Judge Patrick Durcan stated that Mr Gibbons’s defence and version of events concerning the occult, exorcisms and devilish possession should have been explored more by the State.
Judge Durcan also said that he found the complainant “to be less than fulsome” under cross-examination and stated that she remained silent when questioned by himself and solicitor for Mr Gibbons, Daragh Hassett, concerning previous unexplained injuries she sustained where the complainant had allowed Mr Gibbons take photos of the injuries.
Mr Hassett read out to court a text sent by the complainant in the past to Mr Gibbons which read: “I am so glad. I knew I needed the exorcism.”
Under cross-examination from Mr Hassett, the woman denied that she was possessed by demons and when asked to comment on the text message, she told the court that what took place wasn't an exorcism.
Judge Durcan said:
Judge Durcan found that Mr Gibbons did hold the complainant by the shoulder on the night but he stated that it was done in circumstances where there was no intention to cause any harm to the complainant.
In her evidence, the Co. Limerick woman stated that Mr Gibbons flipped her onto her back and and pinned her down on the bed in the bedroom of his home in the early hours of August 17, 2019.
The woman alleged that Mr Gibbons continued to shake her and when asked how long the shaking went on, she stated "forever".
The woman said that her upper body was bruised along with bruising to her thighs, wrists and bruising to her face and neck. She said that Mr Gibbons left the bedroom and she told the court that she dialled ‘999’.
The two were together for three years and the woman stated that their relationship ended that night.
In evidence, Garda Darren McLoughlin said that when gardaí arrived at the home, the complainant was panicked and in a very distressed state.
He stated that all she wanted to do was to get away from the home to her own home in Co Limerick and the gardaí brought her away.
Garda McLoughlin said that the complainant allowed gardaí to take photos of the bruise injuries to her body and they were shown in court.
Garda McLoughlin said that when Mr Gibbons was first interviewed concerning the assault allegation in October 2019, Mr Gibbons admitted to shaking his ex-partner by the shoulder only but stated that he couldn’t understand how she got the other marks. He denied assaulting the woman.
When later presented with photos of her injuries, Mr Gibbons provided a prepared statement in December 2019 to gardaí containing his claim that his then-partner was demonically possessed and that he had carried out exorcisms on her.
In his statement to gardaí, Mr Gibbons stated that he showed Garda McLoughlin a video of him performing an exorcism on the complainant in 2016.
He told gardaí: “It was an example of many exorcisms I have had to perform on her since.” Mr Gibbons stated that he also provided to gardaí a picture of his partner being attacked by a demonic entity in 2016.
He stated that the photo showed scrape marks to her buttocks and scrape marks to her ribs from the attack by the demonic entity.
Mr Gibbons told gardaí that at the outset of their relationship it was clear to him that his then-partner “had a terrible issue in the form of a high-level demonic possession”.
He said: “This exceptional, evil entity was using her own abilities for its own purpose. It was able to perform tasks and use her ability for dark purposes. It could take control of her at will and engage me in conversation - sometimes in Latin.
“When she is low, she is particularly vulnerable to demonic influences.
He stated that once the entity takes over his ex-partner, “she can be pulled from the bed and physically assaulted for hours".
He said: “When I was with her, I was able to prevent this from escalating but when I was not, she frequently suffered considerable bruising, biting and scratch marks.
“When I confided in my family, they expressed considerable concern that if any of these entities were successful in causing her death that the finger would inevitably be pointed at me.”
Asked by Judge Durcan to comment on Mr Gibbons’s ‘exorcism’ video, Garda McLoughlin said: “There is something there when viewing the video. It is very, very strange and you do see her scraping herself.”
Mr Hassett stated that in the video the complainant appears to be in a trance state and is incessantly scratching her wrists.
Judge Durcan asked Garda McLoughlin "do you accept that this woman has been the subject of possession by a demonic force and in the context of that possession were the injuries in this case perhaps self inflicted?”
In response, Garda McLoughlin said: “Personally I wouldn’t believe in that stuff but it is a very strange case.” Garda McLoughlin stated that the photos of the complainant’s injuries from 2016 and from August last year “would show similar injuries”.
In direct evidence, Mr Gibbons denied any assault in August 2019. He said: “There was no assault. There was just me holding her by the shoulders to bring her to her senses. I did not push her. I did not hit her in any way.”
Mr Gibbons stated that he didn’t mention the demonic possession of his ex-partner in his first interview with gardaí “because I felt it was a very personal thing to talk about”.
He said: "I didn’t want to bring it up. I didn't want to be sitting here today talking about it."
Mr Gibbons told the court that at one stage he got a parish priest to say a prayer over the complainant when they were still together.
He told the court:
Under cross-examination from Inspector Aidan Queeney, Mr Gibbons said: “I had been assaulted myself on occasions when she was in a trance state. I have had to hold her down and fend off knives, keys, anything and I didn’t phone the Gardaí because I didn’t feel it was her.”
Insp. Queeney told Mr Gibbons that he has presented “a completely bizarre and unbelievable version of events”.
In reply, Mr Gibbons said: “That depends on your viewpoint.” Asked to comment by Mr Hassett on the unexplained bruising to her body in the photos that Mr Gibbons had taken previously, the complainant said: “I don't know what caused the bruising.”