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tragedy Mum of two who was victim of alleged serious assault has died

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Patrick Ballard has been charged with assault causing harm of Ms Bennett

Patrick Ballard has been charged with assault causing harm of Ms Bennett

Patrick Ballard has been charged with assault causing harm of Ms Bennett

A mother of two who was subjected to a serious assault in Ennis last month has lost her fight for life in hospital.

Wexford native, Sharon Bennett (29) died at University Hospital Limerick in the early hours of Wednesday morning 13 days after she was admitted to the hospital.

Ms Bennett was brought to hospital suffering serious head injuries after being allegedly assaulted by her boyfriend, Patrick Ballard (34) in Ennis's Market area on the evening of Thursday, January 28th last.

The mayor of Clare, Cllr Mary Howard (FG) said today: “It is absolutely heartbreaking to hear that two children will be left without their mother."

The Ennis based councillor stated: “It is so sad that they grow up and their Mammy isn’t there.”

Ms Bennett had her two children from a previous relationship and Cllr Howard stated: “My thoughts and prayers are with her family and her friends who are absolutely heartbroken at this time and I say that on behalf of the people of Clare.”

Cllr Howard commented: “There was great fight in Sharon to fight for 13 days but it wasn’t to be."

Supt Brendan McDonagh of Ennis Garda Station stated: “It is very sad. Sharon Bennett had severe injuries to her brain and unfortunately she didn’t make it.”

Supt McDonagh confirmed that Ms Bennett “passed away in the early hours of this morning at Limerick hospital”.

Supt McDonagh stated that Gardai have allocated a level of resources into the investigation to date that would be normally given to a murder investigation.

He stated that following Ms Bennett’s death “we will be reviewing the charge as it stands. The accused has been charged with assault causing harm and we will consult with the DPP on the matter of further charges”.

Supt McDonagh stated that Gardai will also await the results of the post mortem on Ms Bennett’s remains and the post mortem is due to be carried out by Acting State Pathologist, Dr Linda Mulligan on Wednesday afternoon.

Supt McDonagh stated that Ms Bennett was originally from Co Wexford.

He stated: “Sharon had been living in the Corofin area of Clare before moving into the Ennis area. Sharon had been living in the Clare area for a number of years.”

Tributes were being paid online to Ms Bennett today with one describing Sharon as “an absolute angel” with another saying that Sharon “was always so pleasant with a lovely smile”.

Supt McDonagh stated that Ms Bennett is the first woman to die in a violent situation in a long time in County Clare.

Figures from Women’s Aid show that Ms Bennett is the third woman to suffer a violent death to date this year.

This compares to a total of four for 2020 and five for 2019.

Patrick Ballard of Ashford Court Hotel, Ennis has been charged with assault causing harm of Ms Bennett and is currently on remand in custody at Limerick prison.

Mr Ballard is due to appear in Ennis court again via video link concerning the alleged assault next month.

When charged and cautioned by Det Garda Noelle Bergin on January 29th at Ennis Gardai Station, Mr Ballard replied “I’m sorry for what happened.”

Det Bergin told the special court sitting in Ennis on Saturday evening January 30th that Ms Bennett had remained unconscious in hospital since the alleged assault as a result of sustaining serious head injuries.

Det Bergin told the court that Gardai has received a number of independent eye witnesses statements concerning the alleged assault as part of their investigation.

She stated that some of the independent witness statements are from people who were in the area at the time going about their business.

The detective stated that CCTV footage from a number of premises in the vicinity of the alleged assault has also been harvested.

Det Bergin stated that Gardai were also opposing bail concerning the seriousness of the charge before the court.

Det Bergin stated that Mr Ballard is a drug user and an alcoholic.

Solicitor for Mr Ballard, Tara Godfrey told the court that Mr Ballard has been living under the care of the Simon Community at the Ashford Court hotel in Ennis.

Ms Godfrey stated that Mr Ballard suffers from significant psychiatric difficulties and has spent the last number of years more often than not homeless.

Ms Godfrey told the court that Mr Ballard tried to take his own life on two occasions in the two weeks prior to the alleged assault on Ms Bennett.

Ms Godfrey stated that Mr Ballard has also recently spent time at the acute psychiatric unit in Ennis.

In court, Ms Godfrey described Mr Ballard as “a most vulnerable person”.

After failing to secure bail in the district court, Mr Ballard is scheduled to apply for bail in the High Court on Thursday, February 11th.

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