'Sinister' breach of barring order left accused's ex wife in fear

Appeal court judge refuses to suspend 10-month jail sentence
'Sinister' breach of barring order left accused's ex wife in fear

The judge said she was not prepared to suspend the sentence.

The actions of a middle-aged man who put his ex-wife in fear with a late night visit outside her home were described by an appeal court judge as “sinister” and she refused to suspend his jail term.

The accused had been sentenced to 10 months but appealed that jail term to Cork Circuit Appeals Court.

His wife, who is the victim of the offence, said that on another occasion since this breach of the barring order he did a U-turn on the road and followed her all the way to work.

“He has not changed. He has learned nothing. He has had three months in jail already and he has come out angrier than ever. He still blames everybody but himself for his behaviour,” the victim said at an in camera hearing of the appeal.

Judge Helen Boyle said she was not prepared to remove the custodial sentence. “This was a sinister enough breach of a barring order.

“It went on at night time and went on for a considerable period. There is no doubt it caused the applicant to be in fear. And I conclude that the purpose of his visit was to put her in fear.

He left a note that clearly was a threat — not a threat of violence but it was abusive.

The judge affirmed the order of 10 months but said she would suspend the last two months.

The appellant’s barrister, Alan O’Dwyer, produced a letter from the man’s GP stating that “the break-up of his marriage caused Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder".

“He is anxious to remain out of custody. He is seeking access to his children. He acted absolutely out of character, absolutely abhorrently.” 

'Forensic level of torture'

When the matter was first dealt with at Cork District Court with a 10-month sentence, Judge Olann Kelleher said the accused acted with a “forensic level of torture”. 

“This court comes across numerous marriage breakups. It causes emotional stress but I have not come across someone who has been so forensic in his efforts to terrorise his former wife.

“This is his sixth conviction for a breach of the Domestic Violence Act… This man continues to harass her. I fully understand the trauma caused. He has taken on the victim. He has taken on the gardaí,” Judge Kelleher said.

Sergeant Pat Lyons said: 

This man is terrorising his family and seems to have blatant disregard for orders of the court.

Frank Buttimer, solicitor, said that while the accused contested the previous case for which he got suspended jail terms, he was pleading guilty to this latest crime of breaching a barring order by putting his ex wife in fear.

Mr Buttimer accepted that his behaviour on the last breach was frightening and “absolutely bizarre”. 

In the latest breach he spent 90 minutes hanging around outside the family home in the early hours of the morning, taking photographs, looking around and letting the air out of all four tyres on his wife’s car.

“I believe he is going to keep tormenting me and torturing me forevermore,” she said at the private hearing.

The complainant called gardaí who examined CCTV coverage outside her house early on the morning of January 12.

The accused man was seen on the video footage arriving outside the house just before 5am and leaving an hour and a half later, after coming and going a number of times in the intervening hour and a half. 

In the course of the morning he was seen crouching down behind his wife’s car and letting the air out of all four tyres.

Victim impact statement

The woman said in a victim impact statement yesterday: “He does not feel the rules apply to him. He has no respect for the law.

“He was over 90 minutes at the house going in and out. He took photos of my car and new locks on the front door. It was very upsetting to see him in a fairly crazed state of mind.

"The expression on his face (as captured on CCTV) is haunting me still. I have not slept properly. I am having recurring nightmares of him breaking into the house.

“I am so afraid of what will happen next. He is relentless and shows no remorse. I really think he is enjoying terrorising me and the kids."

The parties cannot be identified in coverage of the case because it was dealt with at an in camera hearing for a breach of a barring order under the Domestic Violence Act.

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