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Dublin man who left woman covered ‘from head to toe’ in her own blood is jailed

‘This was the most serious assault I’ve ever witnessed’

Victim Carrie Murray

Jessica ThompsonSunday World

A man who subjected a woman to a brutal, two-hour assault, which left her covered “from head to toe” in her own blood, has been jailed for three years and six months following a detailed hearing in Mullingar Circuit Court this week.

Aaron Cole (39), of Jamestown Avenue, Inchicore, Dublin 8, was sentenced this morning after Judge Keenan Johnson took time overnight to consider evidence of a section 3 assault, which took place in the Athlone home of the victim, Carrie Murray, on August 19, 2020.

Detective Garda Aidan Hynes, in his evidence explained that the accused and the injured party were connected on Facebook and had begun chatting on the evening of August 18. Both parties were drinking and later that night, Mr Cole got a taxi from Dublin to Athlone at a cost of €200.

He arrived at the house at approximately 2.30am and the pair had a few drinks and watched a movie together.

Ms Murray, the court heard, fell asleep on the couch and woke up at 5.20am. She went to bed, letting Mr Cole sleep on the couch.

At 7am, Ms Murray was awoken by her phone ringing downstairs. When she got up to answer it, Mr Cole was on the stairs with the phone in his hand, displaying the caller as her ex-partner and father of her kids, who also happened to be a nephew of Mr Cole.

Mr Cole became paranoid that he was being “set up for a beating”, the court heard, as he and his nephew did not get along, and he immediately began questioning Ms Murray.

Detective Garda Hynes confirmed to the court that Mr Cole started shouting that he was going to kill his nephew and “cut him up”. He continued to scream at Ms Murray and then headbutted her in the face, causing her to lose her balance and hold onto the side of her baby’s cot in an upstairs room.

Mr Cole, the court heard, turned the injured party over and held her down by the back of the neck, screaming at her. She begged him to stop but he continued shouting at her and began hitting her repeatedly on the head with a section of the cot that slides up and down.

“There was a massive amount of blood on the carpet of the bedroom, on the cot and on the wall of the bedroom,” Det Gda Hynes explained. “It was clearly evident that he had used that cot with Carrie’s head underneath it.”

The beating continued, with Mr Cole screaming and hitting Ms Murray and accusing her of spiking his drink. Ms Murray blacked out on a number of occasions and, each time she came to, the assault was continuing.

At one stage, the court heard, she was on her hands and knees, with the accused continuing to punch or kick her. He continued shouting at her, threatening to kill her. Ms Murray continued to black out and come to during an assault that lasted approximately two hours by Det Gda Hynes’ estimation.

Gardaí were alerted when a neighbour of Ms Murray’s who was working from home heard the commotion from the house. She called Gardaí when the commotion didn’t stop and Gda Hynes and a colleague arrived at 10am and were met at the door by Mr Cole.

“He had no bottoms on, just boxers, and he was wearing a heavily blood stained t-shirt. His arms and face were bloodstained,” said Det Gda Hynes. “Carrie approached the door in horrendous condition. She was blood stained from head to toe.”

Ms Murray, upon seeing uniformed Gardaí at the door, went straight to the back of the Garda car without being prompted.

“I can only describe it as her trying to get to a place of safety as soon as possible,” said Gda Hynes.

Gda Hynes described the accused as being paranoid and under the influence of an intoxicant. However, blood tests later confirmed that Mr Cole was not “spiked”, but the alcohol levels in his blood were 160 ml of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.

“He was completely out of control and clearly under the influence of an intoxicant. There was no animosity towards Gardaí but he was paranoid and, despite her injuries, he was still roaring at Carrie Murray, while she was under the protection of Gardaí, until he was removed,” said Gda Hynes.

Mr Cole engaged with Gardaí during interview and accepted that he had caused the injuries but insisted his drink had been spiked and that he thought he had been set up.

He admitted to Gardaí that he had headbutted Ms Murray, punched her and kicked her in what he described as “an animalistic rage”, stating “I couldn’t control myself”.

Det Gda Hynes told the court that, in his 15 years of service with An Garda Síochána, “this was the most serious assault I’ve ever witnessed”.

“It was a horrific ordeal, which lasted approximately two hours before Gardaí arrived. When I arrived at the scene, he certainly wasn’t finished,” he said.

“It strikes me that if you hadn’t arrived at the scene, we’d be dealing with a murder,” said Judge Johnson.

“Absolutely and that is something that has stayed with me,” said Det Gda Hynes, commending the neighbour for contacting Gardaí.

Ms Murray was brought to Tullamore hospital where she was diagnosed with a broken nose, fractures to both sides of her jaw, damaged teeth, lacerations to the right eye area, nose, upper lip and left temporal area, extensive bruising and soft tissue injuries to the face, upper limbs, lower limbs and chest and a minor head injury.

She was admitted to the intensive care unit in Tullamore and subsequently transferred to St James’ Hospital where she underwent surgery for the fractures to her jaw, which involved the placement of arch bars and bone plates. She also received sutures to the left upper lip, right eyebrow and right and left cheeks.

While in hospital, she received a blood transfusion, pain relief and intravenous antibiotics. Eight months after the assault, she had recovered substantially but still suffered pain and permanent facial scarring.

After her discharge from the hospital, Ms Murray was readmitted following what Det Gda Hynes referred to as “a deliberate overdose” when she swallowed a bottle of morphine. As a consequence, she suffered an episode of pancreatitis and has since developed chronic pancreatitis.

In her victim impact statement, which was read to the court by state prosecutor, John Hayden, BL, Ms Murray painted a graphic account of how seriously and adversely impacted she was by the assault.

“When I finally came around to myself in hospital, I couldn’t see or feel anything. I felt numb,” she wrote, adding that, when she managed to sleep, she would wake up screaming and the nurses would have to come and hold her down so she didn’t hurt herself.

Mr Cole, taking to the stand at Mullingar Circuit Court, became emotional as he read out a letter of apology he had written to the victim.

“You invited me to your home, which resulted in me breaking your trust by assaulting you in your own home in a fit of uncontrollable rage,” he said.

“I’m sorry for every second you had to endure as a result of my unprovoked attack. I want you to know that, no matter the outcome today, I’ll never forgive myself.

“I am and always will be sorry.”

Mr Cole had €5,000 in court as compensation for Ms Murray, who was willing to accept it as a token of his remorse, but not as compensation.

“It is hard to understand how the accused could have perpetrated such a serious assault on the victim over a period of two hours,” said Judge Keenan Johnson when passing judgement this morning.

He added that it was “extremely fortuitous” that Ms Murray’s neighbour had “the presence of mind to ring the emergency services”.

“One shudders to think what the position might have been had the Gardaí not been called and the assault was allowed to continue unabated.”

Judge Johnson took a long number of mitigating factors into account when determining sentence, including a strong familial support, the effect that incarceration would have on Mr Cole’s two children, an early plea of guilt and an attempt to pay compensation.

“Accordingly, I am imposing a sentence of three years and six months,” he said, stating that the offence was “far too serious” to have any portion of that sentence suspended.

“Finally, after today’s sentencing, I hope that the victim can move on with her life and try to put the appalling assault that was perpetrated on her behind her. I know that is easier said than done, but I hope that the closure which today’s sentence brings will assist her with that.”

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