A man who threatened to burn his elderly parents as they slept in their beds, has been sentenced to eight months in prison.
The 29-year-old man’s mother told Galway District Court that she never felt like her home was her own, as she had to spend more time out of it than in it, due to her son’s threatening and violent behaviour.
The man – who may not be identified in order to protect the identity of his parents – appeared in custody before the court, charged with assaulting his mother at her home in Renmore on November 20 last.
He pleaded guilty to obstructing Garda Rachel Killeen at the house on December 7 last and to breaching a Safety Order on several dates late last year, which the court had granted to his parents last July, and which stipulated he stay away from his parents and their home.
Sergeant Georgina Lohan withdrew a charge involving an assault on the man’s father, following the plea to the other charges.
The court heard Gardai were called to the house on November 21 last.
The man’s parents told them their son had gone into his father’s bedroom the day before where he demanded money.
His father gave him €20, but he wasn’t satisfied with that and he pushed his father around the room.
He then went into his mother’s bedroom. She was eating breakfast in her room because she was too afraid of her son to stay in the kitchen.
Her son demanded money from her and she gave him €20. He wasn’t satisfied with that and he demanded more money, pushing her against a sink in her room. He then took a cup of hot tea from her and threw it at her.
Both parents attempted to flee their home in their night clothes and their son threatened them that if they didn’t leave the house he would throw hot water at them.
They returned to their home that evening. Their son pushed his mother around the next day. Both she and her husband became afraid they would be assaulted again and they called the Gardai.
The accused was brought before court the next day where he was granted bail on condition he stay from his parent’s home.
He breached that condition on December 7 last and his parents called the Gardai after he fell asleep in his room.
He became very aggressive when awoken by Gardai and threatened to burn his parents as they slept when he got the chance. He also threatened to stab Gardai in the neck with a scissors when they tried to arrest him.
Gardai called for back-up and the Regional Support Unit arrived at the house where they assisted in arresting the man. He had been held in custody since that date.
Defence solicitor, Brian Gilmartin, said his client had serious addictions to alcohol and drugs, but the time he had spent in prison had made him realise he needed help.
He said his client had been given bail last November to appear before the court on December 7, but he had breached that bail by not turning up in court that day and by going back to his parent’s home.
Mr Gilmartin said his client had instructed him that once he had served any custodial sentence the court would impose, he wanted to take up a residential treatment course to deal with his addictions.
Sgt Lohan said the man had 11 previous convictions, including nine for Public Order offences, one for possession of drugs and one for failing to turn up in court.
Judge Mary Fahy asked to speak to the man’s mother to ascertain her attitude towards her son and how the assault had affected her.
“It has affected me for life. I’m in shock. I can’t believe it,” the woman said.
She said she did not want her son to come back to her home once he was released from custody. She then thanked the Gardai for their support “down through the years” and especially during the most recent, stressful period.
“I never thought I had a home. I was more out of it, than in it,” she added.
The woman agreed with Judge Fahy that at some point in the future she and his father would want to rebuild some sort of relationship with their son, but it would have to be done away from their home.
Judge Fahy said things had been bad, but matters had got a lot worse when the son had started drinking alcohol and taking drugs as he got older. Those addictions had exacerbated matters, she said, and had come to a head when the parents were being assaulted in their own home.
She said it was clear the man needed urgent treatment. She said he was very, very seriously addicted to drugs and alcohol and he would require residential treatment with follow-on aftercare.
The offences occurred while the accused was on bail and that made his offending behaviour even more serious, the judge observed.
She sentenced the man to four months in prison for assaulting his mother and imposed a consecutive four-month sentence for obstructing Garda Killeen when she went to arrest him on December 7.
A consecutive four-month sentence was imposed on him for breaching the Safety Order on December 7, but it was suspended for two years on condition that he be of good behaviour and not reoffend during the next two years; link in with the probation service within 24 hours of his release from prison; attend any residential rehabilitation centre identified for him; and that he stay away from his parent’s home during the period of the suspension.
Concurrent, but suspended one-month sentences were imposed for the remaining breaches of the Safety Order. The sentences were backdated to December 7, when the man first went into custody.
“He now knows he cannot go back home and he will need another residential address. I do hope he is serious about getting treatment for his addictions and that his parents give him the support he needs. That is up to them and I know it’s going to be difficult for them, given what has happened,” Judge Fahy added.
Leave to appeal the sentences was granted on the man’s own surety of €600 and one independent surety of €800 with half of each amount to be lodged in cash in court.
Judge Fahy stipulated the independent surety would have to be approved by the court.
She said the man would also have to provide a residential address, stay away from his parent’s home and that he liaise with the Resettlement Team and addiction services while in prison, pending the outcome of any such appeal.