A Donegal man who threatened to ‘kick the wean out’ of his then pregnant partner has avoided jail.
John Latta (33) of Creatland, St Johnston, admitted to assaulting his then partner, Laura Cole, on August 12, 2016.
Latta was given a suspended sentence of two-and-a-half years by Judge John O’Hagan at Buncrana Circuit Court.
The Court heard that Latta had put an iron bar to Ms Cole’s neck, pushed her to the ground and punched her.
Ms Cole, the court heard, was pregnant at the time, and alleged that Latta had pushed her to the ground before punching her in the stomach area.
‘He said he was kicking the wean out of me’, she said in evidence to Gardai.
Garda McLaughlin said that Laura Cole was ‘distressed, tearful and very shaken and there was still blood on her clothes four hours later’ when she spoke to her on the morning of August 12, 2016.
“There was a lot of verbal abuse and she decided to leave the house so she admitted herself to a refuge to escape,” Judge O’Hagan said.
Ms Cole received stitches to a wound on her head and a further allegation of an assault, from July 10, 2017, when Ms Cole alleged that Latta gave her a black eye whilst she was taking clothes from the drier, was made.
Latta was arrested on August 12, 2016 and taken to Letterkenny Garda Station, where he said that Ms Cole had ‘made this up’ due to ‘some kind of vendetta’.
“She was very, very frighted,” Judge O’Hagan said.
“When Mr Latta was arrested, he was non-committal and he alleged that she had made it all up, that it was a figment of her imagination. But he has pleaded guilty – in other words, they did happen.
“It was suggested to me than these two were back together and that all was hunky dory, but I got suspicious and I wanted to know what was going on. I was not happy and I think that my unhappiness was justified.
“Everything is not back to normal, as was suggested.”
The case was adjourned at last month’s sitting of Letterkenny Circuit Court, when it was claimed that Latta and Ms Cole were cohabiting at an address in County Leitrim.
Judge O’Hagan directed that Ms Cole appear to give evidence. Ms Cole was present in Buncrana, where she said that she and Latta, with whom she has an 18-month-old child were apart since June. Ms Cole suffered a miscarriage earlier this year, she said.
Counsel for the defence, Peter Nolan BL, said that Latta owned a fuel station in St Johnston that had since closed.
Mr Nolan said: “He is seeking work and is attending courses to go back to work. He and Ms Cole have a child and he is happy to support and pay maintenance. The relationship, it would seem, is at an end, but he understands his duties to the child.”
Judge O’Hagan said the ordeal had been ‘a very frightening experience’ for Ms Cole.
He said: “My main consideration to is protect Laura Cole. I propose that he be sentenced to two-and-a-half years on counts one and two, each to run concurrently, and that he enter to volunteer the sum of €100 to keep the peace for three years and not to assault, cause harm or disturb Laura Cole. If she is not bothered or if he does not live up to that undertaking, she is entitled to go and make a complaint. In which case, he will serve the sentence.”Tags: