'horror story' | 

First man convicted of coercive control in Ireland appeals 10 and a half year sentence

The injuries suffered by the woman included the head-butt to her nose from Kane after nasal surgery and a broken arm that was ‘similar to an injury from a car accident’

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Paul NeilanSunday World

The first man to be convicted of coercive control by a jury in Ireland has launched an appeal against his 10.5-year sentence for making his partner's life a "horror show" with repeated violent assaults, threats and intimidation.

During a 20-month relationship, Daniel Kane (54) repeatedly attacked the woman, including burning her foot, cutting her face with a pizza slicer, headbutting her face when she was recovering from nasal surgery, and punching her and stamping on her arm causing her multiple fractures.

On another occasion he stamped on her head and strangled her, leaving finger marks along her throat. After being charged with the attacks and while in custody Kane threatened to send explicit images of her to her family if she did not withdraw the case.

At the Court of Appeal today, Kane's barrister Padraig Dwyer SC said his client was appealing the length of his cumulative sentence, submitting to the three-judge court that it was "excessive".

Mr Dwyer said his client had committed "appallingly aggressive and despicable" behaviour over 20 months and that there was "no gainsaying the pain" he caused.

Mr Dwyer said the relationship had been an abusive one but had calmer periods when Kane was sober and added that his client had no relevant previous convictions.

Counsel said phone calls made from prison by Kane to the woman were "not the most vicious in character" and were "more ones of manipulation and self-pity rather than a threat".

Mr Dwyer said his client was a person who had no relevant convictions in his adult life and had received a sentence of 10.5 years as a first offender.

Counsel said that while there was no evidence of remorse at the time of the trial, Kane was now remorseful and had written a letter to the woman but had not sent it to her.

Mr Dwyer said his client had a very serious alcohol problem and had been admitted to hospital on occasion and had suffered with depression and had attempted a "variety" of suicides.

Counsel said Kane had been a care-giver for his elderly parents and had attended a residential facility for his alcoholism.

Mr Dwyer said if the complex sentence structure was taken in its totality, the trial judge should have given his client more of a discount for a man who appeared before her in his early 50s and who was of "generally good character".

Counsel said there was a disproportionality to the consecutive nature of the sentence structure which he described as "excessive" and had the effect of reducing any effective rehabilitation of his client.

Anne Marie Lawlor SC, for the State, said the sentencing judge had carefully considered and crafted the sentence and that the appellant could not point to an error in principle

Ms Lawlor described the woman as "living in a horror story" for 20 months and said the injuries suffered by the woman included the head-butt to her nose from Kane after nasal surgery and a broken arm that was "similar to an injury from a car accident".

Ms Lawlor said that incidents like the pizza cutter being used on the woman's face and the repeated punching and violence mean that the incidents "melted into one another".

Counsel said that the defence framed the abuse in terms of alcohol but pointed out that Kane had been sober and in prison when he further exercised "continued coercive control and dominion" over the woman through 250 phone calls.

In those calls, said counsel, Kane attempted to pervert the course of justice and intimidate a witness by threatening to send intimate images of her to her family and for her to withdraw from the case.

Ms Lawlor said the "heinous violence" against the woman was only discovered by an A&E consultant who believed her life to be in danger and contacted An Garda Síochána.

Ms Lawlor said the assaults were of the most serious kind, that Kane had never expressed remorse at the trial and that the trial judge imposed a "significant" sentence on the appellant that had due regard to proportionality and the totality of the offending.

Mr Justice George Birmingham, presiding, said the court would aim to have a judgement on Thursday of this week.

In November 2021, a jury convicted Kane of Waterville Terrace, Blanchardstown, Dublin, of coercive control, intimidation, assault and 12 counts of assault causing harm.

The offences occurred at various locations, including the couple's Dublin home, on dates between May 2018 and January 2020.

He had pleaded not guilty to all the offences at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. The prosecution came after the first circuit court trial for offences under this law.

Kane pleaded guilty to a separate charge of intending to pervert the course of justice in the period between March and July 2020. This related to several attempts by Kane to get the woman to withdraw her statements to gardaí by threatening to show intimate images of her to her family.

In her victim impact statement the woman told the court she “might be dead or in a vegetative state” if doctors and gardaí had not intervened to get her away from Kane.

Passing sentence after trial, Judge Elma Sheahan noted that Kane has not taken the opportunity to apologise to the victim or express remorse for his actions.

Judge Sheahan noted that during the trial, the accused's senior counsel was instructed to suggest to the victim, during cross-examination, that “she was prone to hysteria”.

She said that but for the intervention of a doctor the assaults would have continued. She said the victim “remained beholden” to the defendant. His repeated assaults accompanied by rants and demeaning language all served to “maintain his control” of her, she said.

Judge Sheahan said the assaults were aggravated by the attacks taking place in the victim's home, the persistent nature of the offending, the fact of the intimate relationship, the level of fear instilled on the victim and her psychological vulnerability.

She noted as aggravating factors the fact that Kane was on bail for other charges when he committed the intimidation offence and was already charged with intimidation when he attempted to pervert the course of justice.

Judge Sheahan said the case was mitigated by his previous good character, but noted that had to be juxtaposed with his repeated offending in this case over a 20-month period.

Judge Sheahan said that emotional abuse and assault occurring within a relationship was unfortunately “all too prevalent in society”. She described the physical harm done in this case as “significant, brutal and cowardly”.

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