Kerry man jailed for beating up ex
The deputy principal of a Louth secondary school has described a man who beat up his ex-girlfriend as pleasant, courteous and generous.
Victim Evangeline O’Neill told the Central Criminal Court that David Henry (28) sat on top of her before punching her in the head, arms and stomach. She had black eyes the next day and was unable to eat because of soreness in her jaw, she said.
Henry of Alderwood Rd., Tralee, Co. Kerry had pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm at Causeway Comprehensive School school car park, Tralee on June 17, 2012. After a trial an eleven-strong jury returned a majority verdict of ten to one.
Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy suspended the last 18 months of a three year prison sentence on condition that Henry keep the peace. He backdated the sentence to January 28 last when Henry went into custody.
Una Kirk, the deputy principal of St. Oliver's Community College, Drogheda, told Anthony Sammon SC, defending, that she was aware of the conviction and had no hesitation in acting as a character witness for Henry. She said his measured and reasoned approach to dealing with students made him popular with staff and students.
He had worked as a substitute PE teacher from Easter 2012 until the end of that academic year. She said he was always professional and courteous.
Reading from her victim impact report Ms O’Neill said:
“The violence inflicted on me shook me to my very soul and left me terrified. It’s something that will never leave me”.
She said she has received counselling but still suffers sleepiness nights and depression.
Detective Garda Aidan Carey gave an account of the assault based on Ms O’Neill’s statement to gardai. He told Patrick Gageby SC, prosecuting, that the couple had been going out but had separated. This relationship had ended and then rekindled.
After spending a day together she had ended it again and he later texted her saying he was crying and suicidal. She went to a party that night and Henry continued to text her and drove to the party.
The victim, who was aged 22 at the time, left with her next door neighbour, Ciaran Leahy, and went back to his house where his sister and parents also lived. Henry’s texts had become abusive and he was calling her a “slut” and a “bitch”. He arrived at Mr Leahy’s house and she went out to meet him.
She got into the back seat of his car and they drove to the car park of a local school. He then climbed into the back seat and started hitting her. Ms O’Neill told the court he straddled her legs so she was incapable of moving and punched and slapped her in the head, arms, legs and stomach.
She said she couldn’t breath and he was shouting profanities at her. She said she thought she was going to die.
Defence counsel said that Mr Henry’s version of events were that the victim became angry with him while they were talking in the back seat and he said something about him having sex with another girl. He told gardai: “She lost it, she with at me with nails, fist, everything”.
He said it was normal for them to fight and he tried to grab her hands to stop her. Counsel said this was not a case of a man beating up a woman gratuitously but was the case of excessive force used in self defence. He said Henry accepts he used excessive force and is contrite.
Mr Justice McCarthy said he was glad that at this late hour that some contrition has been expressed. He said that this was a ‘very troubled relationship’ and took into account the fact the Henry had offered an apology to the victim.