Judge dismisses case of ‘women behaving badly’

April 13th, 2023 8:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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A DISTRICT Court judge said it was a case of ‘women behaving badly’ after hearing about a mum accused of assaulting another mother at a  direct provision centre.

Judge James McNulty had been dealing with the case of Olamide Sanni at a recent sitting of Clonakilty District Court. Ms Sanni of Apartment 204, The Lodge, Clonakilty denied assaulting Jetmira Bakaj at the accommodation centre on August 6th 2021.

Judge McNulty noted that it can’t be easy for people seeking refuge here to be living in shared accommodation and in close proximity to other people.

Ms Bakaj said she was in her room with her children when the defendant knocked on the door. She said Ms Sanni was very loud and came to attack her.

‘I answered the door and then closed it, but she tried to come in by pushing the door. She was shouting “I’ll kill you, I’ll smack you”,’ said Ms Bakaj.

‘She tried to grab me by the neck while I was standing in the doorway. The  manager then came along and pulled her away. I was terrified and I called my husband and told the manager to call gardaí.’

Solicitor Conrad Murphy, representing Ms Sanni, claimed that the witness punched his client in the upper lip and produced pictures in court of her injuries. Ms Bakaj denied she punched her.

‘She came to your door as your son had said something about her son while they were on a trip to the cinema. 

‘My client was upset and was not arguing with you,’ said Mr Murphy.

‘She said you immediately started shouting at her and that you were aggressive as you stood outside the door of your room. She said that you punched her and called her a b***h.’

The manager of Clonakilty Lodge, Michael Plichta, said he was up in the attic that day when he heard the noise from downstairs. He said he saw Ms Sanni shouting at the door and enquired as to what was going in.

‘Ms Bakaj opened the door and she grabbed Ms Sanni and I jumped in between them. They were shouting at each other and name calling,’ said Mr Plichta.

‘They were very loud and more people came out onto the corridor. I told Ms Sanni to go back to her room.’

He said he did not see the assault on Ms Bakaj and did not see anyone striking anyone.

Gda Elaine O’Sullivan said she met with Ms Bakaj following the altercation and that she was visibly shaken and frightened. She also had scratch marks on her neck. She met Ms Sanni and was showed the bruising on her lip.

Judge McNulty recapped the statement Ms Sanni made to gardaí, in which she said she told Ms Bakaj what happened to her son in a ‘calm and polite manner.’ She starting using bad language and hit her a punch so Ms Sanni held onto her, to prevent further punches. In recapping Ms Bakaj’s statement, she said Ms Sanni was banging on the door and she felt really scared and had to protect herself.

Ms Sanni told the court that she went to the room to ask her to get her son to stop bullying hers. She said she didn’t allow her to talk and was aggressive and punched her.

‘I held her clothes in self-defence and then Michael came down and separated us. All I said to her was to please talk to her son in order to stop the bullying,’ said Ms Sanni.

Insp Triona O’Mahony said that it would have been better for her to walk away when Ms Bakaj said she didn’t want to talk.

Judge McNulty said this case could be best described as ‘women behaving badly’ while referencing  the TV show Men Behaving Badly. 

He noted that the defendant had gone to ‘confront’ Ms Bakaj about the incident with their children when she should have left it.

‘It’s also fair to say that Ms Bakaj is not lacking in self-esteem and that her performance under cross examination by an experienced solicitor was combative and she was ready for it,’ said Judge McNulty.

He said the court has no doubt that the defendant did not get a warm reception from Ms Bakaj.

The judge also said that the court has to be aware, too, that both women are seeking refuge in a strange country and living in shared accommodation.

‘It can’t be easy living in close proximity to people and people can get upset.’

In conclusion, Judge McNulty said the court has some doubt if the defendant was the aggressor or just responding to aggression, and so he dismissed the case.

‘Ms Bakaj is no butterfly or shrinking violet and when the defendant came to her door, she may have responded physically,’ he commented.

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