A SKIBBEREEN man is to appeal a two-year prison sentence that was handed down in the District Court this week for assaulting and imprisoning the mother of his child.
Michael Casey of Cooragannive, Skibbereen, denied the allegations made in the court by Sophie Tobin, the mother of his now one-year-old child.
Solicitor Colette McCarthy entered a full defence on the two charges – one of assaulting Sophie Tobin, causing her harm, and the other of falsely imprisoning her over the course of a number of hours after midnight on November 18th 2018.
Sophie Tobin alleged that Michael Casey had pressured her to attend the latter part of a family christening in Bantry on November 17th and that things turned nasty when she went back to his house at Cooragannive.
She said she was seven-months pregnant at the time and they had an argument about their unborn baby, as well as the fact that he had in his possession a topless photograph of her, for which she had not posed.
She alleged Michael Casey was ‘off his head’ after consuming alcohol and cocaine. She told him that if he continued to take drugs, he could have no further contact with her or their baby.
The witness said it was as she attempted to leave his timber cabin that he pushed her out of the way, locked the door, and put the key in his pocket.
Sophie Tobin alleged that he then threw cocaine in front of where she was sitting, saying it was real Peruvian cocaine and that she could not afford it.
The witness said she attempted to climb out a window but he pulled her down by her legs. She subsequently photographed the bruises on her hip and also attended a GP because every muscle in her body was ‘sore.’
Sophie Tobin said that when she went back into the bedroom he followed her. There, he is alleged to have drawn an imaginary line and told her she was not leaving.
Texts that the witness sent to her friend were read out in court by Det Gda Maurice Shanley. They stated: ‘He has lost his mind. He has lost his marbles altogether. He is on coke. I don’t know what is happening. This is scary. He is a fucking lunatic. If I can’t get out soon I will text and ring the guards.’
Sophie Tobin said she locked herself into the bathroom because she was scared he was going to hurt her.
When she did leave the house, she said there was a scuffle in which she ended up on the ground near a stream and it was here he allegedly pinned her down and threatened to put her in the river.
She told the court: ‘I was holding on to my bump. I was terrified.’ She said he then fetched the car and told her to get in.
She sat in the back seat but attempted to get out of the car because he was taking the driveway too fast. ‘He told me he would crash the car,’ Sophie Tobin stated.
She said he was shouting that he was ‘a fucking drug dealer’ and when three people – who were aware of the texts to Sonia Thompson – arrived, she got in the car with them and left.
She denied in cross-examination that she was drunk that night, but she did admit to having a glass of wine at the christening. She denied she was hysterical and out of control.
Sophie Tobin refuted Michael Casey’s claim that he had insisted she get into his car because she had been threatening to walk the 5km to Skibbereen town in the dark.
The accused admitted having five or six pints that night, but denied having coke. He said he had quit it after being convicted and sentenced on drugs-related charges before Judge McNulty last year – convictions that are currently under appeal.
He said he was attending an addiction counsellor and was also taking random drug tests – all of which have been clear.
Michael Casey said he was trying to calm Sophie Tobin that night, and that he never laid a finger on her except to grab the shoulder of her jacket when she tried to jump out of the car.
He said he was trying to keep her from harming herself and he described her condition as ‘absolutely langers drunk’ and as ‘crazy, absolutely crazy.’
Judge James McNulty convicted the accused on both charges and sentenced him to 12 months in prison on each – a total of two years in jail. Recognisances were fixed for an appeal.