A MACROOM man has been jailed for eight years for an assault on his wife in which he threw her down the stairs, resulting in her suffering a stroke which has left her walking with a stick.
Anthony Kelleher, (42), a fitter from Curraheen, Raleigh North, Macroom, had denied assault causing harm to his wife Siobhán (37) at their home on the evening of June 12th, 2014. A jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court took less than two hours last February to find him unanimously guilty and he was remanded in custody.
At this week’s sentencing hearing, Det Sgt Joanne O’Brien told how gardaí had been alerted by staff at CUH after Ms Kelleher was rushed there by ambulance. She outlined how gardaí had taken three statements from Ms Kelleher who said in the first two how her husband assaulted her, before she retracted those two statements in a third statement.
During the trial in February, Ms Kelleher was called as a witness for the prosecution against her husband but she told Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin she wanted to withdraw her complaint.
Asked a number of questions by prosecution barrister, Siobhán Lankford BL, Ms Kelleher repeatedly answered, ‘I am not giving evidence, judge’, before leaving the witness box. The State then made an application to have her statements to gardaí read into evidence and, following legal argument in the absence of the jury, Judge Ó Donnabháin allowed this.
In her first statement, made on June 16th, 2014 from her hospital bed, Ms Kelleher told Det Sgt Joanne O’Brien she was at home when her husband attacked her.
‘I had a glass of wine before Anthony came home [from work] to calm my nerves. He started ranting and raving and said I was staggering around. I went to bed for an hour. Anthony dragged me out of bed by the hair and threw me across the corridor and down the stairs. I woke up in hospital.’
A native of Lixnaw in Co Kerry, Ms Kelleher told in a second statement how the row started with her husband being unhappy with the meal that she had prepared for him.
‘We were having pork chops. He complained that the pork chops were cooked in the oven. He wanted them fried. He is a perfectionist. He never says ‘Thanks’. I went to bed and covered my 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.
‘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 downstairs and kicked me on the way down.
‘I got to the first landing and he kicked me the rest of the way down. I don’t remember anything until I woke in hospital with a tube down my throat. Anthony came into 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,’ she told gardaí.
But in a third statement made 10 months later, Ms Kelleher withdrew the previous two statements and said she fell at the clothes line, her husband never laid a hand on her and she apologised to him.
Kelleher did not go into the witness box during his trial but he did make statements to gardai, also entered into evidence, in which he said his wife had a drink problem. He was later arrested but denied to Det Garda Tom O’Sullivan hitting her or kicking her or throwing her down the stairs.
Det Sgt O’Brien said Ms Kelleher had suffered serious injuries in the assault, including fractures to her ribs, spine, finger, wrist and arm and bruising to buttocks, thighs and trunk.
Dr Louise Kelly, a surgeon at CUH, had told the trial that Ms Kelleher had also suffered a life-threatening laceration to the liver which was consistent with a blow to the body and did not tally with a fall.
Sentencing Kelleher, Judge Ó Donnabháin noted that Kelleher continued to maintain his innocence and insisted that his wife’s injuries were sustained in an accidental fall.