‘Abusive’ Tipperary husband called wife a ‘dirty slapper’ on Christmas Day
A judge was left “appalled” by an adult teenager being promoted to give evidence in support of one parent over the other at a recent sitting of a District Court in Tipperary.
The defendant was before the court on charges of assault and for breach of a safety order.
The adult teenage daughter of the defendant and the complainant gave evidence in court in support of her father.
The complainant told the court that on December 25, 2020, she took her underage children to their father’s (also her husband’s) house.
She said she pulled up at the entrance to the house, got out of the car and went to get presents that were in the boot.
She said her husband came out of the house and snatched presents from her, and said he told her to go “f**k off” with herself now.
She said he told her to say goodbye to the children as “you are not going to see them again”.
She said her husband was abusive to her face and she made allegations of assault including that he pushed her twice, once of which was on the shoulder which resulted in her losing her balance.
She said her husband was aggressive and frightened her, and that she was “scared of what he might do”.
The complainant said she was aware that her underage children were present and saw what was happening.
The complainant said she got back into the car and locked the doors. She said their adult teenage daughter came out of the house. The complainant said she winded down the window and that the adult teenage daughter begged her not to call the gardaí.
The complainant admitted that the adult teenage daughter was angry with her because she had gone to the gardaí about the defendant previously when he didn’t return their underage children to her.
The complainant then said she moved her car further up the road and started video recording, noting that her husband was aware she was doing so.
When asked by a Garda Superintendent about how the ordeal made her feel, she responded: “I was shaken. I was frightened.”
Under cross examination, a defence solicitor said that leading up to Christmas there were issues regarding access to the children, which the complainant acknowledged.
The complainant said it was her idea that the children spend more time with their father and adult teenage sister.
The solicitor said his client says he lifted the bag from the boot of the car and that the complainant took it off him, which she denied in court.
The solicitor said his client has denied pushing the complainant, and that he went into the house with his children.
His client has denied being aggressive, and has said that the adult teenage daughter went out and asked her mother not to call gardaí to the house because she had done so on nine previous occasions.
Regarding the video recording, the solicitor questioned why the complainant didn’t leave the scene when the others had gone back into the house if she was “so frightened”, to which she replied that she had rang the gardaí.
The solicitor said “common sense” would have been to leave the scene, to which the complainant replied that her husband came back out and was abusive again to her.
“You were a frightened woman and your actions are to start videoing,” the solicitor said.
The complainant replied that there had been a “long time of abuse”, before the solicitor questioned the purpose of the video recording. The complainant said she was locked in the car and wanted to record what was happening.
The solicitor said the “appropriate” thing would have been to leave the scene, to which the complainant replied that she was parked on the main road and could call for help if she needed to.
“I don’t think you were fearful at all,” the solicitor argued.
In reply to the judge, the complainant said an access order had been secured last year.
The judge questioned were there any witnesses, to which she said there was at the beginning but that her children were inside the house during the second altercation.
A garda said he was on duty on Christmas Day last when he received a call to attend the incident.
Gardaí first met with the complainant at an arranged location nearby, before making their way to the family home.
The garda outlined the allegations against the defendant. “It was Christmas Day and it was an awkward situation,” the garda said.
The garda told the defendant to have dinner with his family while he waited in the sitting room, before an arrest was enforced for breach of the safety order.
The garda said he was “well aware” of the complainant and defendant’s history, and that this was his first time taking action.
The garda said the defendant stayed in custody over Christmas night, and that underage children remained in the family home with their adult teenage sister and uncle after the arrest.
The defendant then gave evidence, firstly highlighting that there is a private road to the side of his house which his neighbour has property rights to, which was the location his wife was parked.
He acknowledged that there were difficulties regarding access to the children prior to Christmas Day last.
The defendant said an argument ensued after he picked up a bag that he thought was coming into the house.
The “emotionally drained” defendant said gardaí had been called to the house in the days prior to Christmas Day last.
The defendant said he went back outside and had words with his wife. He said it was an “emotional day” and that he was “overcome” by his emotions.
“I never pushed her,” the defendant said.
“I was emotionally upset,” he continued.
The defendant said he didn’t care that his wife was in the car video recording him.
The defendant said his adult teenage daughter asked his wife to move the car and to not call the gardaí, and he said that’s when he went out and became “emotional”.
The judge was then shown the video recording of the incident, where words including “low life value woman” and “dirty slapper” could be heard.
In mitigation, the defendant alleged that his adult teenage daughter and himself had found hotel bookings and porn videos of his wife.
The defendant said he accepted his behaviour would have put his wife in fear and that he breached the safety order.
He acknowledged that he ordered his wife to depart a road that he doesn’t own.
The defendant said it was agreed that the children would spend Christmas Eve with their mother. “It was me communicating with her,” the defendant said.
The judge noted, however, that this access was not part of last year’s court order.
The adult teenager, who resides with her father, said her underage sibling became upset when their mother snatched a bag from their father.
She said herself, her underage siblings and father then went into the house.
She said she then went back outside to her mother and asked her not to call the gardaí. She said she stayed outside and then her father came out and said stuff to her mother like “calling her a slapper”.
She then asked her father to come back inside the house and “not waste our time”.
She said her father was “very hurt” by the incident as it was Christmas Day.
She denied hearing her father tell her mother to “f**k off”. She said she didn’t see her father push her mother.
She said she was there when her mother started video recording, and that her father was speaking in a “raised voice”.
The Garda Superintendent questioned whether the adult teenager was in fear, to which she replied: “My father has never put me in fear.”
Responding to the judge, she said her parents broke up recently. She said that her father hadn’t permission to remove anything from the car boot.
When the judge queried whether the adult teenager had any words for her father after he called her mother a “slapper”, she said that she found stuff on her mother’s phone about her having an affair.
She said she spoke with her father about this but not her mother.
The judge asked her whether it was appropriate for her to access her mother’s phone without permission, to which she said she felt it was.
The adult teenager denied not having respect for her mother.
In reply, the judge told her that she has a “skewed sense of what’s right and wrong”.
The judge said there are “deep, deep fractures in what’s left of the family unit”.
He said the matter culminated in what’s meant to be a “joyful” occasion.
The judge said he has never seen a child promoted to give evidence fully in support of one parent over the other. He described it as “appalling”, and that he feels sorry for the underage children concerned.
The judge advised the complainant and defendant to “grow up” and to not use their children as mechanisms to force their issues.
He fined the defendant €500 for breach of a safety order, whilst striking out the allegation of assault.
“He was abusive and his tone was aggressive,” the judge said. “I hope both parties can move on without looking back,” the judge added.