A 50-YEAR-OLD Schull man has been sentenced to nine months in prison for breaching a barring order on his estranged wife on two occasions.
Andrew O’Driscoll, Waterside, Main Street, Schull appeared at a recent sitting of Skibbereen District Court on the two charges.
Lisa O’Driscoll, the defendant’s estranged wife, gave evidence in court of two occasions where the barring order was allegedly breached.
Mrs O’Driscoll told the court that on May 7th she had gone into Skibbereen to get groceries and when she came out of Field’s SuperValu and crossed the bridge she saw the defendant parked in his car a few cars away.
Mrs O’Driscoll said that he had the window down and he called her a ‘common fat ugly slag’ and that she was ‘nothing but a common ugly whore’ and he said ‘he was going to get her.’
Mrs O’Driscoll said she was shaking with fear as it has frightened the life out of her.
The second occasion where the barring order was allegedly breached was on Sunday May 15th when Mrs O’Driscoll was coming back from Cork and stopped off in Lidl in Skibbereen to get juices for her children.
‘I was watching all the time and I didn’t see his car anywhere and I parked adjacent to the tills and I told my daughter to stay in the car,’ said Mrs O’Driscoll.
When she queued up to pay for her goods she felt someone staring at her and didn’t recognise him at first but realised it was a friend of the defendant, Alan Hassett.
Mrs O’Driscoll was walking out the door and she picked up the store’s leaflets on the way out and when she walked through the first two doors, she could hear the defendant shouting at her calling her a ‘fat fucking slag and you’re dead,’ and he was jumping around the place. She admitted she hit him with the flyers because she got such a shock.
‘I couldn’t speak and I couldn’t even dial the gardaí,’ said Mrs O’Driscoll.
She told the court a man with grey hair came to her aid and they went back into the store to see if the defendant was still there. She made it to her car and she admits her children could see that she was shaking but she continued and drove to Skibbereen Garda Station.
‘I was terrified and I thought he was going to kill me,’ said Mrs O’Driscoll.
The defendant’s solicitor Pat Farrelly said: ‘We saw you assault him and all he wanted to do was see his children. We saw it on CCTV that he wasn’t jumping around the place and Mr Hassett was there and he saw what happened,’ said Mr Farrelly.
‘His anger is a reaction to you not allowing him see his children.’
Mr Farrelly accused Mrs O’Driscoll of being angry and provoking his client but she denied this. He said his client subsequently rang the gardaí to tell them that he was actually assaulted by Mrs O’Driscoll.
‘You’re hamming this up as it’s going on for years and you’re not telling the truth,’ said Mr Farrelly.
Giving evidence in court Garda Karen O’Flynn from Skibbereen Garda Station that she was on duty on May 15th and received a call at 6pm from Andrew O’Driscoll, alleging he was assaulted by his estranged wife in Lidl. Gda O’Flynn said that as she was leaving, Mrs O’Driscoll arrived at the station and alleged that Andrew O’Driscoll threatened to kill her. When Garda O’Flynn drove down to Lidl she met the defendant who was also upset and said he had left the shop in order to avoid her, but as he left she hit him on the side of his face with the leaflets. He denied speaking to Mrs O’Driscoll and Garda O’Flynn made an arrangement to speak to him at a later date.
Following the viewing of the CCTV in court Garda O’Flynn said that Mr O’Driscoll wasn’t jumping up and down at the shop’s entrance.
Alan Hassett, a friend of the defendant, said he was in Lidl that same time. When questioned by Supt Ger O’Mahony, he said he had arranged to meet the defendant in the store and when he met Andrew outside, the incident was all over.
Judge James McNulty said that the CCTV footage showed Mr O’Driscoll looking up and down the aisle as if he was looking for someone.
‘As Lisa O’Driscoll left the till the CCTV shows the defendant leaving at the same point and he left the store without shopping and in a bit of a hurry,’ said Judge McNulty. Supt Ger O’Mahony said the barring order in place against the defendant has been in force since July 21st 2015 and he pointed out the order doesn’t just prevent the defendant from coming into the family home, but it also related to threatening behaviour.
Mr Farrelly said if it was the case that a barring order was breached, then they don’t know what was said and he said there were serious questions over the evidence of Lisa O’Driscoll.
Judge McNulty pointed out that a barring order requires the person not to engage in harassing or intimidating the applicant in any place she may be. In relation to the May 7th incident, Judge McNulty said the principle evidence comes from Lisa and the ‘vulgar and offensive abuse’ shouted at Lisa frightened the life out of her.
‘There are no witnesses to this incident and the defendant has chosen not to give evidence, so we don’t have any defence evidence. However, there is credible evidence and the court is satisfied and convicts,’ said Judge McNulty.
‘In relation to the incident on May 15th, we have seen the CCTV footage of the defendant in the store. It becomes very apparent when Lisa leaves after paying at the till, the defendant leaves hurriedly without shopping, on the heels of his estranged wife. Clearly there is an exchange and the court accepts Lisa’s evidence.’
Judge McNulty said the court would disregard the assault, which the defendant claimed to have suffered outside Lidl by Lisa O’Driscoll.
‘It appears to be a thing of nothing, but what’s more serious is the accosting and verbal abuse in a public place on a Sunday evening of a woman out shopping for her family, and the court convicts him of this second charge of breaching the barring order.’
The court was told that the defendant had two previous convictions for similar offences and the most recent one saw him receiving a six month suspended sentence.
Mr Farrelly told Judge McNulty that it has been an extremely stressful time for his client as his marriage is over and that he hasn’t seen his children in a while.
However, Judge McNulty said the defendant’s behaviour since the estrangement has caused both the courts and social services to be concerned about him having unsupervised access to his children.
Judge McNulty said barring orders are made quite frequently by the courts and that it is important that those who seek the protection of the courts know that when boundaries are set by the court, and they are breached, the consequences are usually severe.
Judge McNulty said for the incident on May 7th at Fields SuperValu carpark, he would sentence the defendant to three months in prison and ‘it won’t be suspended and will be served.’
In relation to the incident on May 15th, Judge McNulty said this was another further serious attempt to intimidate a woman in a supermarket.
‘This was a grave breach of the order with no mitigating factors, and I am sentencing him to six months in prison to be served consecutively after the other, and I will allow leave to appeal.’
Judge McNulty set recognisances in his own bond of €1,000 but he also wanted two sureties each in the sum of €10,000, with 10% provided in cash. ‘The two sureties have to understand that if the defendant offends, they will lose their money.’
Mr Alan Hassett and another friend Mr Brosnan both offered to be sureties. Judge McNulty released the defendant on bail but he attached several conditions to it, including keeping the peace and being of good behaviour.
‘You must not communicate with Lisa O’Driscoll by any manner or means, other than communication through her solicitor or through social services. This means if you see her car parked at a supermarket for example, you should shop another time,’ said Judge McNulty.