01 Dec 2021

Parents fighting on street in Tullamore told to stay off drink as judge suspends six-month jail sentences

Parents fighting on street in Tullamore told to stay off drink as judge suspends six-month jail  sentences

Parents fighting on street in Tullamore told to stay off drink as judge suspends six-month jail sentences

Six-month prison sentences imposed on a husband and wife who were the subject of a Tusla report were suspended on condition they both abstain from alcohol.

The man, 32, and the woman, 30, had previously pleaded guilty to assault at Hayes Cross in Tullamore on December 27, 2019.

A report from Tusla was ordered after Judge Catherine Staines said she was concerned about their four children having heard the couple were fighting with each other on the street.

Defending solicitor Ciara Macklin said parenting courses had been completed by both defendants and certificates had been issued.

Ms Macklin said the couple had also been required to attend alcohol awareness courses but encountered difficulties in finding one, partly because they had literacy problems. The solicitor said she had lost count of the number of times she had made phone calls and written emails to find a course.

Judge Staines noted that Tusla had carried out their report and were satisfied everything was alright.

The judge said the mother had 68 previous convictions but she congratulated her for doing the parenting course and said she hoped she learned something from it. Ms Macklin assured her that she did.

Judge Staines said Mr Joyce had 33 previous convictions and his problem was alcohol, as was the case with his wife, hence her decision to impose a sentence but suspend it for a year on condition they abstain.

A previous court sitting was told that when gardai arrived at Hayes Cross 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.

The man was said to be co-operative following his arrest and his wife was not under the influence of alcohol at the time. Most of the woman's previous convictions were for theft and road traffic offences but she also had convictions for public drunkenness, most recently in 2016.

The court heard that on the night of the incident the children, aged between four and 10, were with their maternal grandmother. Ms Mackin said 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 ADHD, as his child had.

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 because the case before her was one 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.

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