Concerns for children after parents fight each other on Tullamore street
A report from Tusla has been ordered after Judge Catherine Staines said she was concerned about four children whose parents were fighting with each other on the street in Tullamore town centre.
The local District Court heard that the man, 32, and the woman, aged 30, who do not live in the town but were in Tullamore on a night out, got involved in a dispute at 1am at Hayes Cross on December 27, 2019.
Sergeant James O'Sullivan said that when gardai arrived they found the couple physically and verbally assaulting each other and shouting and roaring outside Supermac's.
The man punched his wife in the face and she was pushing back at him.
Sergeant O'Sullivan agreed with defending solicitor Ciara Macklin that the man was co-operative following his arrest and his wife was not under the influence of alcohol at the time.
Judge Staines was told the woman had 68 previous convictions, most of which were for theft and road traffic offences but she also had public order convictions, including for public drunkenness, most recently in 2016.
Ms Macklin said the defendants were the parents of children aged between four and 10 and on this night the children were with their maternal grandmother.
They were on a night out which happened “very irregularly” and the father had quite a lot to drink. They went to Supermac's and his wife was trying to get home but he wasn't co-operating and a row broke out.
When Judge Staines pointed out to Ms Macklin that the husband had punched his wife in the face, the solicitor said the woman had given “back what she got” and there was no justification for what happened.
They had not made complaints against each other, the solicitor added, and the male accused had not drunk since then and he accepted that drink was the cause of a lot of his problems.
Reading a probation report which had been prepared for the court, Judge Staines said the father had limited insight into his behaviour and minimised his wrongdoing by attributing it solely to being intoxicated.
She said the man insisted the incident was a one-off despite being accused separately of being drunk in charge of a child, possession of knives and theft.
The report said the man had done community service on numerous occasions but had a poor attitude and previously received a suspended one-year sentence for violent disorder.
The report further said the man had never worked and was considered very high risk for reoffending.
Ms Macklin said that in her dealings with the father, she found that his focus and concentration was very poor and she would not be surprised if he had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a condition one of his children had been diagnosed with.
The solicitor added that the man's wife had accepted his apology and he had not been in trouble since.
Judge Staines said her main concern was for the children and this was a case where one parent was totally intoxicated and had punched his wife in the face and she had admitted assaulting him.
She ordered the report from Tusla to make sure the children were safe and being looked after and said she would deal with sentencing once she had seen the report.
The judge said she was considering a prison sentence for both parents and ordered them to complete parenting and alcohol awareness courses and if those were not done she would “certainly view it a certain way”.
Sentencing was adjourned to October 13 next for the report and proof that the courses had been undertaken.
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