Man head-butted partner after christening after she asked if he wanted more children

November 2, 2023

A man exploded into a fit of rage and attacked his girlfriend after she asked him if he would like to have more children on the day of their daughter’s christening.

Joseph Gallagher head-butted the woman before kicking her and then pulling her hair just hours after the church ceremony in Co Donegal.

The 35-year-old appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court where he pleaded guilty to Section 3 Assault Causing Harm on August 15th, 2021.

The couple had been in a bar at Meeting House Street in Stranorlar with friends when the incident happened.

Garda Sergeant Maurice Doyle said a conversation came up about the couple having more children and Gallagher accused his girlfriend of “bullying” him into making a decision.

The woman replied that if that was the case then maybe they shouldn’t be together.

The accused man exploded and head-butted his girlfriend before kicking her and then pulling her hair.

She ran back into the pub and was bleeding and a friend’s husband asked what had happened to her and she was taken away.

Gallagher, with an address at Ardnawark, Barnesmore, was arrested on September 7th but claimed he was very drunk but he knew something had happened.

He said all he remembered was that they were arguing at the side of the pub and that the woman’s nose was bleeding and he then got a taxi.

Sergeant Doyle said there were no admissions to the assault but when it was outlined to Gallagher he said it was “disgraceful” but that he couldn’t even remember what they were arguing about.

The court was told that the victim was given the opportunity to provide a victim impact statement to the court but she declined.

Barrister for the accused, Mr Damien Crawford, said the couple are back living together again having split up.

He said he is currently undergoing a treatment programme and seems to be complying with it.

Mr Crawford said his client had attended an addiction course at Cuan Mhuire in Galway and was also on an outreach programme at WhiteOaks in Donegal.

He had engaged extensively with the Probation Services since the incident and they had placed him at a moderate risk of reoffending in the next 12 months.

Mr Crawford said TUSLA has also become involved in the case and had devised a safety plan which is being observed and is working adding the couple have been living together again for the past ten months.

He said his client had no recollection of the events in the night but understands that it is unacceptable and is undergoing counselling with the relevant services for his alcohol recovery.

The court was told that Gallagher suffers from depression and cited the loss of his mother when he was just three years old in tragic circumstances as being a major factor in his life.

Despite this, Mr Crawford said the accused has expressed a deep remorse for what he did and has taken steps to rebuild his life but that his family were nevertheless ashamed and outraged by his actions.

Mr Crawford said he was asking the court to see that the accused does have choices and support and that a custodial sentence may not be required.

Judge John Aylmer said the reports on Gallagher were lengthy an adjourned the case to review the reports before final sentencing.