A farmer who pinned down his ex-partner on a sofa during a drinking session at her home has been given a suspended jail sentence

James Clarke appeared at Letterkenny Circuit court charged with assault causing harm and three charges of criminal damage.

The court was told that Clarke’s ex-partner Sharon and her friend Tracey McCrabb had been drinking in Ms Clarke’s home on August 24th, 2015.

They contacted him and asked him to bring some drink to them to the property in Raphoe and he joined them.

However, in the early hours of the morning, Mr Clarke, aged 55, is alleged to have reached for Mrs Clarke and pinned her to her sofa.

She suffered bruising during the attack and damage was also caused to her coffee table, flat-screen television and car windscreen.

A victim impact statement from Mrs Clarke said she feared for her life during the attack.

Barrister for Clarke, Peter Nolan said wine, vodka and poitin was consumed at Mrs Clarke’s house and they were drinking heavily.

Mr Nolan said that during the drinking session Mrs Clarke hit Mr Clarke with a wine bottle.

“There was aggression on both sides in this case,” he said.

Garda Tom McNally, the investigating Garda agreed.

Mrs Clarke lives in the old family home while Mr Clarke lives close-by in his parents’ home.

Mrs Clarke has installed CCTV cameras at her home.

A probation report said Mr Clarke, who has 24 previous convictions, had a difficult upbringing and took solace in alcohol.

He has limited education and is now employed on a farm in Northern Ireland.

He has a moderate risk of reoffending in the next 12 months, the probation service claimed.

A total of €1,400 has been paid in compensation for the objects broken.

Mr Clarke said he was ashamed of what he had done and was not proud of what he did.

These charges were in the context of a bitter family dispute and another issue, added Mr Nolan.

Judge John Aylmer said he noted that Mr Calrke is rightfully ashamed of the circumstances in which he assaulted his former partner.

He said the attack would merit a sentence of 15 months and placed it on the upper end of the lower scale of offences.

However, he cited the mitigating circumstances and said it was clear Clarke made full admissions and pleaded guilty.

He added there was a positive probation report and has developed a good insight into the effect on his victim.

Judge Aylmer sentenced Clarke to 12 months for the assault and nine months in prison for the three criminal damage charges but suspended the prison term for 12 months.

He also ordered him to engage with the probation services.


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