A man has been sentenced to five months in prison for trespassing at his ex-partner’s home and putting her and her children in fear.
The 29-year-old, who may not be named in order to protect the identity of the woman and children, pleaded guilty before Galway District Court this week to breaching a Safety Order by entering the woman’s home on May 7 last year.
Judge Mary Fahy became incensed when told the man had contacted his ex-partner on two occasions since then, to try and get her to drop the charge against him.
The Safety Order had been granted by the Family Court last year after the couple split up and he was to stay away from the woman and have no contact with her or her home.
The woman told the court this week that she didn’t know how the man got into her home or why he was there. She said she and her children heard noise upstairs when they returned to their home around 11.15pm on the night in question.
The woman said she had moved house in order to get away from her ex-partner and had thought he didn’t know where she lived. She explained he had regular access to the children through a family member and she never had to have any contact with him.
She said she still didn’t know how he found out where she lived and since this incident both she and her children were in fear he would return.
“I don’t know how he got in. I don’t know why he was there and I’m afraid going into my house every evening,” she said.
Judge Fahy noted that the woman’s enjoyment of her own home had been impacted and she was still afraid of the man.
“The kids don’t like going upstairs alone. We were split up for five months at the time and I still don’t know how he got into the house,” the woman said.
Judge Fahy asked the man why he had gone into the woman’s house, knowing there was a Safety Order in place.
“It was the day of my child’s Holy Communion,” he replied.
Judge Fahy warned the man not to bring his child’s Holy Communion into this.
“That just shows what type of person you are. You took a bench warrant in January when you didn’t show up for this and you dragged this on since then and then, when I ask you a simple question, why were you there, you bring your young child into this,” the judge said to him.
The judge said that if she sent the man to prison he would not be able to pay maintenance.
The woman said she believed the man had no remorse and she said he had contacted her on several occasions since telling her to drop the charge.
Judge Fahy said that was very serious and amounted to the man perverting the course of justice by asking the woman to drop the charge.
“My hands are tied now,” she warned.
Defence solicitor, Colin Lynch asked Judge Fahy to suspend any sentence she might impose to put his client to the test.
Judge Fahy said the man had contacted the woman twice to drop the charge, knowing it was wrong to do so and she sentenced him to five months in prison for breaching the Safety Order.
She said the man needed to realise his behaviour was absolutely appalling and when she had given him a chance to explain himself, he had brought his child’s Communion into it.
“It’s very likely this lady will have to move house again,” the judge added.
Leave to appeal the sentence was granted on condition the accused have no contact with the complainant or her property.