A judge has described an incident in which a husband broke his wife’s leg in a violent assault in her home in Co Wicklow last year as “like something a trained soldier would do”.
Judge Pat Quinn said the highly unusual nature of the assault whereby the man raised his wife’s leg in the air while she was lying on the ground before twisting her foot and stamping on her leg which resulted in two fractures to her limb was designed “to cause maximum damage and pain”.
The 47-year-old father of two, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty at a sitting of Wicklow Circuit Criminal Court to a charge of assault causing harm contrary to Section 3 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.
The offence took place in the victim’s home at an address in Co Wicklow on September 19, 2021.
On hearing the facts of the case, Judge Quinn remarked: “I can’t imagine any more horrific description of inflicting pain. I can’t imagine a worse Section 3 assault.”
Detective Garda James McDonagh of Wicklow Garda Station gave evidence that the victim had not sought immediate medical assistance for her injuries.
The court heard she only called for an ambulance about two weeks after the attack when she described the level of pain as “close to 10” on a scale of 0 to 10.
The woman subsequently required surgery and had a plate and screw implanted in her left foot.
She was unable to walk for three weeks after the operation and required the assistance of neighbours to attend to her family duties.
Det Garda McDonagh agreed with counsel for the DPP, James Kelly BL, that there was a history of “disharmony” between the couple and they often did not see “eye to eye” after alcohol had been consumed.
The witness said the victim had obtained a number of safety orders against her husband and gardaí had been called to her home on a number of occasions.
The court heard evidence the accused had breached safety orders on dates in July and October last year before and after the date of the assault.
He also had a number of previous criminal convictions, including one for breach of a safety order for which he received a two-month suspended prison sentence and fine of €250 last year.
Det Garda McDonagh said the victim had not attended court as she was “petrified” of the proceedings and the prospect of seeing her husband in person again.
He said the woman had now been provided with secure accommodation in a secret location where a CCTV security system had been fitted to provide her with a sense of safety.
The detective said she had worried about her husband returning to her home but that she felt safe now.
Counsel for the accused, Edmund Sweetman BL, said his client had written a letter of apology for his “abhorrent” behaviour and the worry and shame he had brought on his children in what he claimed was a “one-off incident.”
Judge Quinn sentenced the man to four years in prison but suspended the final two and a half years on condition he has no further contact with his wife on his release from jail.
He was also ordered the accused to receive treatment for his alcohol addiction.
The judge backdated the man’s sentence to October 6 last year after hearing he had been remanded in custody since that date for breaching a safety order.