Longford assault victim attacked in her pyjamas

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Six months in prison for Leitrim man who stole from a church

Longford District Court

A Longford man is to appeal a four month prison sentence handed down at last week’s District Court sitting for assaulting his former partner twice on the same day.

Sean Taaffe, 71 Annaly Park, Longford, was given the jail term by Judge Seamus Hughes after pleading guilty to two Section 2 assaults at Canal Bank, Longford and Annaly Park on October 22, 2018.

He was also charged with criminal damage and theft on the same date at Canal Bank as well as two Section 4 and 6 Public Order offences at Dublin Street on March 16, 2019.

Sgt Mark Mahon was asked at the outset of the case if the victim was in court, a question which led to her telling gardaí 24 hours beforehand that 'she never wants to see this gentleman again'.

Listening on, Judge Hughes stated: “Would you blame her?”

As the charges were read out to the court, there appeared to be some confusion as to what, if any, offences Mr Taafe intended pleading guilty to.

Sgt Mahon said Mr Taaffe’s file contained charges relating to damage to a front door, two assaults and the theft of a mobile phone.

“No, your Honour that’s not true,” said Mr Taaffe, concerning the alleged mobile phone theft.

Sgt Mahon said during the course of the theft, a door was damaged and the victim was assaulted.

He added the defendant followed the victim inside the property into a bedroom, rugby tackled her onto a bed before attempting to bite her on the face and neck.

An attempt, he said was also made, to choke the victim.

“That’s not true,” said Mr Taaffe, in response.

“We had a disagreement, but that didn’t happen.”

“I grabbed her by the top of the head, but I didn’t hit her.”

Asked about what brought about the second assault, Sgt Mahon said much like the incident before it, the victim had been attempting to retreat when she was accosted.

“It occurred when the lady left the house,” he said.

“She was on the public street and she left the house in her pyjamas.

“He tried to grab her hair and pull her back.”

Mr Taaffe, again however, contested that version of events, saying: “That didn’t happen Judge.

“There was no second assault.”

Judge Hughes hit back and asked why Mr Taaffe was accepting his role in both incidents despite seeming to question the evidence which was being provided.

“He is digging a hole deeper every time I ask a question,” he said.

“You have pleaded to a second assault. It’s like hand holding a child.”

Not stopping there, Judge Hughes also had strong words for Mr Taaffe’s solicitor, Aine Gordon.

Judge Hughes said he simply wanted to iron out the facts of the case and warned Mr Taaffe of the likely ramifications should he continue to adopt the same stance as outlined from the start.

“I want to know did a girl have to escape for her life in her pyjamas and you, you thug you, chasing her and pulling her by the hair, is that what happened?”

Sgt Mahon agreed, stating it represented a “brief summary” of what had occurred.

“If I have to have a hearing for this case and if I have to have a hearing for it I will be exercising my full sentencing powers,” added Judge Hughes.

Mr Taaffe said the events of last October and his role in them were not in keeping with his everyday behaviour.

“That’s not something I would do your Honour,” he said.

“So, obviously if I did do that, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.”

He also added he had been co-habiting with the victim up until three or four weeks ago before a barring order was taken out against him.

“Now because she has a barring order; me and her isn’t getting on and the reason I did lose the plot and I done things that night I shouldn’t have done was because I found out she was cheating,” he said.

Ms Gordon said her client was remorseful over what had gone on and pleaded with Judge Hughes to exercise as much leniency as possible.

“Mr Taaffe accepts he was drinking a lot and self medicating. He did get back and live with (victim) for a while and has a job for the last two months.

“He accepts what he has done is appalling and regrets everything.”

Judge Hughes said the only avenue in which such leniency could be utilised was if a substantial offer of compensation was made to the victim.

With no specific offer made, Judge Hughes said he would be seeking €3,000 and asked when the money would be offered up.
Mr Taaffe’s suggestion of depositing €100 a week into an account was, however, quickly shot down.

“You have had six months to prepare for your defence in this case. She hadn’t a second to prepare to escape for her life out of the house in her pyjamas,” he said.

Judge Hughes issued a four month concurrent sentence for the Section 2 assaults while taking into account a Section 6 Public Order charge while also striking out a Section 4 offence.

Mr Taaffe is to appeal the sentence to Longford Circuit Court after recognisances were fixed at €750.