A MACROOM man was found guilty of assault last week, after he had denied dragging his wife out of bed by her ponytail and kicking her down the stairs.
He had also denied he had beaten her, leaving her with lifelong injuries.
The jury of three women and nine men took less than two hours at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to reach their unanimous verdict against Anthony Kelleher (42) on the charge of assault, causing serious harm, to Siobhán Kelleher, 36, at the family home in Curraheen, Raleigh North, Macroom, on June 12th 2014.
While the defendant gave no visible reaction, his wife wept at the verdict.
Tom Creed, defence senior counsel, asked for Kelleher to be allowed out on continuing bail to put his affairs in order.
The prosecution did not oppose the request, but Judge Ó Donnabháin refused bail.
‘His status has irrevocably changed in view of the verdict of the jury,’ the judge said.
Anthony Kelleher did not give evidence.
Mrs Kelleher also declined to testify against her husband, but the prosecution went on in the absence of oral testimony.
Mrs Kelleher had walked very slowly to the witness box with the assistance of a walking stick on Wednesday, February 17th, grimacing as she made her way up the steps.
She swore on the bible and then, in reply to the first question asked by prosecution barrister Siobhán Lankford, Mrs Kelleher said: ‘I want to withdraw my complaint.’
Following legal argument in the absence of the jury at that point, the prosecution was allowed to go ahead by presenting to the jury three statements taken down in writing from Mrs Kelleher following the incident on June 12th 2014.
Four days afterwards, from her bed at CUH, she had said that the previous Thursday her husband came home from work at about 5.15 pm.
‘I had a glass of wine before Anthony came home to calm my nerves,’ the statement said.
‘He started ranting and raving and said I was staggering around. I went to bed for an hour.
The statement continued: ‘Anthony dragged me out of bed by the hair and threw me across the corridor and down the stairs. The next thing I knew I woke up in hospital.
She added, in a second statement: ‘We were having pork chops that day. I put the dinner on the table. He would never say thanks. He complained that the pork chops were cooked in the oven. He wanted them fried. He is a perfectionist.’
The statement said she then went to bed and covered her head with the blankets.
‘He came after me and asked me what did I say. I said, “Nothing, I’m sorry.” I put my hands to my face to save my head. I didn’t want bruises.
‘I had my hair in a ponytail and he pulled me out of bed by the ponytail. There were clumps of hair coming out.
‘He dragged me by the hair and threw me down the stairs. He kicked me on the way down twice in the ass. I got to the first landing and he kicked me the rest of the way down,’ her statement continued.
‘I was out cold and I don’t remember anything else until I woke in hospital with a tube down my throat.’
The statement added: ‘Anthony came in to the hospital with my slippers and pyjamas. He started crying and said, “If you had died I would have thrown myself in the river.” I couldn’t look at him.’
In her third statement, ten months later, she withdrew the previous two statements against her husband, said she fell at the clothes line and that her husband never laid a hand on her and she apologised to him.
Anthony Kelleher also made statements to gardai.
He had said: ‘I believed she had a drink problem. Siobhán fell down the stairs at our home. She smokes an odd cigarette now and again. She would get very unsteady on her feet … if she has a cigarette. (Later) She fell against the wall.’
He denied beating his wife within an inch of her life.
Professor Stephen Cusack, who testified that he co-wrote Cork University Hospital’s policy on responding to domestic violence, was called by the defence and he testified that ‘all of the injuries are consistent with a fall from a height’.
Siobhán Kelleher’s injuries included numerous fractures to her ribs, spine, finger, wrist and arm, laceration to her liver and bruising to buttocks, thighs, trunk, and abrasions to her face, and she went on to suffer a stroke.
Kelleher has been remanded in custody for sentencing on May 9th.