Donegal Gardai commended after first conviction for coercive control secured

February 12, 2020

One of the country’s leading Gardai has commended Donegal Gardai after they secured the country’s first conviction for coercive control.

Milford man Kevin Dunleavy, 33, was jailed for 21 months after pleading guilty to a number of offences including coercive control.

Letterkenny Circuit Court heard how Dunleavy bombarded his partner with 5,757 phonecalls, many of them of a threatening nature.

He burned her clothing and also demanded where she was when she was out by contacting her by Facetime on her phone.

He pleaded guilty to a number of charges after a lengthy investigation carried out by local Gardai including Detective Garda Darren Carter of Milford Garda station.

Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly, Garda National Protective Services Bureau said Gardai are dedicated to priecting Ireland’s most vulnerable people.

He said “Coercive control is an insidious and demeaning crime designed to degrade and debilitate an individual and their persona. It is a deeply dangerous and personal crime against the person usually committed over a prolonged period.”

“This conviction and sentencing, the first of its’ kind in the state, further demonstrates An Garda Síochána’s dedication to fully investigate all matters related to this vital legislation in order to protect some of Ireland’s most vulnerable persons.”

Coercive Control is an offence contrary to Section 39 of the Domestic Violence Act 2018.

It occurs when a current or ex-partner knowingly and persistently engages in behaviour that is controlling or intimidating and is having a serious effect on a person.

The victim may fear that violence will be used against them, or they may be suffering serious alarm or distress that has a substantial impact on their day-to-day activities.

The victim of Coercive Control may have their freedom of movement reduced. Every aspect of their life may be controlled by their current or ex-partner, including access to their personal finances and the freedom to see family and friends.

Coercive Control is a pattern of behaviour, incidents or details that in isolation are not a criminal offence, but when viewed together display a web of abuse that is insidiously and forcibly eroding at a person’s quality of life.

The Garda spokesman added “An Garda Síochána can provide support and information to victims of Coercive Control. If a victim wishes to make a formal complaint, we can investigate. To assist us in investigating Coercive Control and preparing a strong case, we will need to gather evidence such as a diary the victim has been keeping, text messages and emails that highlight the abuse, and accounts from family and friends.”

Anyone with any information relating to Coercive Control is asked to contact their local Garda Station or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.

An Garda Síochána also reminded members of the public of some of the various services catered to assist anyone who may be a victim of Coercive Control:

Women’s Aid National Helpline – 1800341900 –
Amen – 046 9023718 –
Crime Victims Helpline – 116 006 –
Rape Crisis Network Ireland – 1800778888 –