A man who breached a protection order by threatening the partner of his children with a knife has been handed a nine month suspended prison term by Judge Conal Gibbons.
Guylaim Beya, 42 Dundarragh, Longford had pleaded not guilty to breaching Section 17 (1) of the Domestic Violence Act 1996 at the aforementioned address on December 12 2017.
Mr Beya, a courier, was charged with threatening violence and putting fear in Jessica Mudima, ordering her to leave the property before threatening to use a knife against her.
Ms Mudimba, in her direct evidence to the court, said she contacted gardaí following a confrontation with Mr Beya over claims she had a fling with someone else.
“Guylaim got aggressive with me because someone told him I was pregnant from another man,” she said.
“That’s why he lost control. After that I called the Gardaí because I was scared for my life.”
Ms Mudimba said she was given two options by the accused-to leave the house she shared with her children or run the risk of being threatened with a knife.
“My three kids live in the house,” she continued, adding their ages ranged from 20 months to eight years of age.
It was at that point Judge Gibbons was told Ms Mudimba had been at a family law court sitting 24 hours previously.
“I was scared because I didn’t know why he (Mr Beya) was aggressive like this,” she said.
In his cross examination of Ms Mudimba, defence solicitor John Quinn tried to suggest Mr Mudimba’s stepson would support his client’s claim that a knife was never produced.
However, Judge Gibbons was quick to rebuke Mr Quinn’s line of questioning.
“What went on in family law proceedings is in camera (behind closed doors),” he said, as he disallowed the question from being directed at Ms Mudimba.
Mr Quinn proceeded to probe Mr Mudimba nonetheless, accusing the Longford based mother of “galavanting” in Dublin and Paris with other men while her partner was at home minding their children.
“You abandoned your children and left everything to this man,” he contended, accusing Ms Mudimba of returning home “penniless” from a trip to Dublin.
Again, Judge Gibbons was quick to step in and warn Mr Quinn about the tone of his cross examination of Mr Mudimba.
“Are you going to introduce evidence of this witness galavanting in Dublin and France?” Judge Gibbons asked Mr Quinn.
“Cross examination is a very specific skill. When you put allegations to a witness you have to stack them up. This is not open season.”
Taking on board those comments, Mr Quinn said the relationship between the pair was now at an end.
He said his client had become increasingly perturbed at Ms Mudimba’s decision to leave the house for a number of months while Mr Beya endeavoured to provide for their children.
Ms Mudimba, who was still sitting in the witness box, confirmed she had been away in Paris during July and August but had taken three of the couple’s children with her.
She added her presence at home had been constant since 2017 and in part had been mitigated by the modest means she had to rely upon.
“Yes, I have no choice,” she told Mr Quinn.
“I live in a RAS (Rental Accommodation Scheme house). I don’t have a choice.”
In revealing she was awaiting a local authority decision to seek alternative accommodation, Mr Quinn put it to Ms Mudimba her part in fuelling Mr Beya’s frustration was well founded.
“I suggest that when you came back from Paris, you were gone again to Dublin,” he said, claiming she held “a gripe” about having no money on her return.
“He (Mr Beya) is the father of my kids,” she bluntly responded.
“If I don’t have money to buy milk for the kids, then he has to buy the milk.”
Investigating officer, Garda Gary Larkin said he called to the Dun Darrach estate at around 4:30pm on foot of a complaint.
He said Ms Mudimba had appeared “very scared” and told him that unless she vacated the property Mr Beya would “put a knife in my face”.
Mr Beya, he added, admitted asking Ms Mudimba to leave the house before arresting the defendant shortly after 5pm.
“She was very upset,” said Garda Larkin.
“She was shaking, she looked as is if she had been crying and was very upset for her three children.”
In his direct evidence, Mr Beya said he was effectively bringing up the pair’s children on his own.
“Every day I collect the children and see what they need for the next day,” he contended, suggesting Ms Mudimba had spent €600 during a weekend visit to Dublin.
Mr Beya said his irritation was compounded by Ms Mudimba’s request to return home with milk.
“I say; ‘If you stay here don’t stress me. I say: ‘One day I will put a mark to remember me. Leave me alone.”
Mr Beya, when asked about whether he had put fear in Ms Mudimba on the day of the alleged incident, insisted; “I am afraid of her now”.
He said his former partner was unemployed and accused her of telling lies, claiming her close family no longer talk to her.
“I am happy for her to go,” said Mr Beya.
“I am starting a new life, but I am scared for my children because she won’t give them an education.”
Mr Beya also claimed he never received notification that a protection order had been served against him, despite court files showing it was dispatched from the District Court offices seven days before the alleged incident was reported.
However, Judge Gibbons rejected that assertion and attempts by Mr Beya to “besmirch the good name” of the victim.
“It’s obvious listening to her (Ms Mudimba) in the witness box that he (Mr Beya) said what he said,” remarked Judge Gibbons.
“Did he put her in fear? Yes he did, absolutely.”
Judge Gibbons said he simply did not believe Mr Beya’s claim of not being served with a protection order.
“If courts allow people to break orders without redress and impunity then courts should not be making these orders,” he told Mr Beya.
Judge Gibbons said breaches of such orders were one of the most serious offences to come before the District Court, adding the offence did warrant a potential custodial sanction.
In commending the actions of Longford Gardaí and most notably Garda Larkin, Judge Gibbons said his ruling had to be both proportionate and accommodating to the concerns of the victim.
“I have to make sure the injured party is protected,” he told Mr Beya.
“If I send you to prison, she will be protected for a very short period, but I want to structure it in a way that she is protected for much longer.”
In that instance and after learning Mr Beya was gainfully employed and the main breadwinner for his children, he sentenced him to nine months in prison.
He suspended that sentence, however, for a period of two years.