Dad assaulted and threatening to kill daughter while possessing Magnum hand-gun

Dad assaulted and threatening to kill daughter while possessing Magnum hand-gun

A father jailed for assaulting and threatening to kill his daughter while possessing a Magnum hand-gun will not face an increased prison sentence despite an appeal by prosecutors.

Cathal Gartland (42), with an address at Saltown, Dundalk, Co Louth had pleaded guilty to assault causing harm, possession of a firearm and making a threat at various locations in Dundalk on February 8, 2014.

He was sentenced at Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court to five years imprisonment by Judge Michael O'Shea on May 20, 2015. Lesser sentences were imposed to run concurrently.

The Director of Public Prosecutions sought a review of Gartland's sentence today on grounds that it was “unduly lenient”.

However, the Court of Appeal dismissed the DPP's application on grounds that the sentence was within the margin available to the sentencing judge.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said Gartland was at home with his then partner when he was disturbed by a call relating to the two daughters he had with his ex-wife.

He learned that his youngest daughter was intoxicated and “behaving inappropriately”, the judge said.

He went to their mother's house, who was not at home, and commenced assaulting his younger daughter by slapping her such that she fell to the ground.

His older daughter intervened, the judge said, and Gartland took a hand-gun from his pocket and held it to the side of her face. He picked his younger daughter up off the floor, hurting her in the process, and took her to the taxi.

There was some dispute, the judge said, over whether Gartland put the gun in his youngest daughter's mouth in the taxi.

On arrival to his home, he took his daughter "forcibly" from the taxi and into his home where he produced the gun again and at one point “threw the gun at her”. It was a .357 calibre Magnum Smith and Wesson, the court heard.

He pulled her hair, boxed her and at one point forced her legs over her head, Mr Justice Sheehan said. He threatened to throw her in the river, kill her and kneecap her.

A witness described him as acting “like a mad man”, the judge said.

His youngest daughter escaped into a neighbour's home and was subsequently taken to hospital.

She had a wide range of injuries including to her elbow, forearm, wrist, hand and feet. She needed to use crutches for four months and stated that she struggled to understand why her father assaulted her the way he did.

The sentencing judge said what happened could only be described as “shocking, horrific, outrageous behaviour” subjecting his daughter to “savagery and brutality”.

She must have been “petrified”, the sentencing judge said, at being threatened to be drowned in the river, kneecapped and killed.

In 2000 Gartland was convicted at the Special Criminal Court for possession of firearms and ammunition in suspicious circumstances.

Prior to that, he was convicted of assault causing harm and in 2009, he was convicted of producing an article during the course of a fight, among other previous convictions.

Mr Justice Sheehan said Gartland's relationship with the woman he was staying with at the time of the offences, ended as a result of his offending behaviour.

Mr Justice Sheehan said the Court of Appeal, if called upon to sentence now, might well have imposed a sentence higher than five years.

However, there were factors in Gartland's favour such as his engagement with counselling services and attendance at Cuan Mhuire treatment centre.

“The sentence imposed, while undoubtedly lenient, was within the margin” the Court of Appeal was “required to afford the sentencing judge,” he said.

The court also found that it was open to the Circuit Court judge to conclude that this was not a case for consecutive sentences.

Mr Justice Sheehan, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Edwards, dismissed the DPP's application for a review.