Barred man who shouted in ex-partner’s letterbox given suspended sentence

June 7, 2024

A man who breached a court order by landing at his ex-partner’s home and shouting in the letterbox has been given a suspended sentence.

The man, who is aged in his 30s and cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the woman, was charged with breaching a protection order that had been made in court.

He was charged with an offence contrary to section 33 (1) of the Domestic Violence Act, 2018.

The accused man, who was brought to Letterkenny District Court from Castlerea, where he was remanded in custody, also pleaded guilty to the theft of a backdoor key belonging to the woman.

The court heard that the man contravened the protection order the day after it was made when he arrived at the woman’s house in County Donegal in an intoxicated state.

Sergeant Jim Collins told the court that the woman was out for the evening and received a call to say that the man had returned.

The man forced entry into the house and took a key to the backdoor.

When the woman returned, he shoved the woman and was described by gardai as being “quite noisy and emotional”.

“He was creating a scene,” Sergeant Collins said. When gardai arrived, the man was aggressive and he was arrested at the scene.

The defendant was found on his knees shouting through a letterbox at the address of the woman and put her in fear.
Gardai said the protection order prevented the man from watching or besetting the home of the woman.

The man was put into the witness box by his solicitor, Mr Patsy Gallagher.

He said the experience of being in custody for two weeks was “like hell on earth”. He said he undertook to now abide by the terms of the court order.

“I don’t want to annoy anybody,” he said. “I tried to tell her that I loved her. I just asked for one chance. I wish her well. I pray that the Lord blesses her.”

Mr Gallagher said his client is a “very Christian and understanding man.”

He said the accused man now accepts that he acted wrongly and inappropriately. Mr Gallagher said the man has had mental health difficulties and has sought help.

Since entering custody, the period of time has been “traumatic and a time of realisation”, Mr Gallagher said.

“He has no intentions of making any approaches and he acknowledges that any actions would put her in fear.”

Mr Gallagher, while noting the fears that exist, urged the court to impose a suspended sentence as something hanging over his client for a period of time could act as a deterrent.

Previously, the woman took to the witness box and told Judge Cunningham that she is suffering from constant post-traumatic stress disorder and said she would be afraid if the man were granted bail.
“He has been to places uninvited and I am afraid he will do it again,” she said. “How can I guarantee my safety? I know that he will be back. I can’t guarantee that he won’t be back. I am afraid that he will be back to my door.”

At various intervals during the hearing, Mr Gallagher had to instruct his client to be silent as he attempted to address the court and the woman about his feelings for her.
Judge Éiteáin Cunningham said these are “very serious matters”. The man has no previous convictions and Judge Cunningham said that he has indicated that he has learned a lesson.

But for his early plea and the mitigation put forward by his solicitor, Judge Cunningham said a custodial sentence could have been imposed.
For the section 2 assault of the woman, the man was directed to pay 1500 in compensation and was given 12 months to do so.

For breaching the protection order, the man was sentenced to four months in prison with the entirety of the sentence suspended for a period of 18 months.

Judge Cunningham warned the man that this represents “a chance” for him.