Thursday 24 August 2017

Man who imprisoned and kicked ex-girlfriend unconscious as her children screamed at the door jailed for two years

Judge received anonymous letter about dad who attacked mother of his three children

Robert Maguire (34) pictured leaving Dublin Circuit Court this afternoon (Pic Collins Courts)
Robert Maguire (34) pictured leaving Dublin Circuit Court this afternoon (Pic Collins Courts)

Sonya McLean and Declan Brennan

A man who falsely imprisoned his ex-girlfriend and kicked her unconscious has been jailed for two years.

The 30-year-old woman woke up in her bed to find Robert Maguire (34) standing over her and spitting on her. He threatened to kill her before kicking her in the genitals and beating her into unconsciousness as her children screamed at the bedroom door.

Last March Maguire, of Colthurst Gardens, Hunting Glen, Lucan in Dublin pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to assault causing harm and false imprisonment in the woman's Dublin home on January 14, 2012.

Mr Justice Paul Butler described it as a violent attack on an entirely defenceless woman in front of her children.

He imposed a four year sentence on each offence to run concurrently. He suspended the last two years on condition Maguire keep the peace for that period. He also ordered that Maguire have no contact with the victim for that period.

During the sentence hearing last March the victim wept at the back of the court as Garda Mairead Scanlon gave details of the attack.

The court head how the victim was asleep in bed when she received “a bang” to the face and saw Maguire standing over her, spitting and shouting.

He hit her and pushed her back down on the bed when she tried to get up. He then kicked her in the side.

At this stage the woman's baby, who was in a cot in the room, started crying and her older children were at the bedroom door screaming. The woman then realised Maguire had locked the bedroom door.

He wouldn't let her go to the baby. Instead he picked the baby up from the cot, opened the door and gave her to the oldest son.

The woman was screaming for help or for someone to call gardaí when Maguire locked the bedroom door again and told her he was going to kill her “stone dead”. He then started kicking her until she went unconscious.

A next door neighbour had heard the screams and called gardaí but Maguire had fled by the time they arrived. The woman was taken to Tallaght Hospital but had to return the next day as the wait was too long.

She was treated for extensive cuts and bruising including to her genital area where Maguire had kicked her. Maguire was later arrested and admitted the assault.

The court heard Maguire has several previous convictions including one for theft for which he received 240 hours community service.

Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, said it was a “ferocious but brief” attack which must have been humiliating for the victim. He said Maguire was offering an “unequivocal apology” for his actions.

Mr O'Higgins said the motive for the attack was that Maguire had found out the woman was in a new relationship. He said it was a case of “sexual jealousy.”

Maguire had been in an on-again, off-again relationship with the woman for over ten years before they broke up for good in late 2011. He was the father of three of her children.

At a hearing last month Mr Justice Butler said that he noticed there was a lot of publicity surrounding the case in March and there had been interviews on the fact that Maguire may not get a jail sentence.

He commented that he had to put the case back for a probation report because the defence team had asked him to consider community service and he couldn't consider that without an assessment by the Probation Service.

The judge said he also received an anonymous letter from a member of the public “more or less telling me what a terrible person the accused is” and how he should be “sent away for life”.

Mr Justice Butler told Mr O'Higgins to consider the letter. The judge said it put him in “a very difficult position” and advised counsel to get instructions from his client as to whether he wanted him to continue presiding over the case.

Counsel replied that he thought the case was poorly reported in the media and described it as being “without context and grossly unfair to my client”.

Mr Justice Butler said he wasn't criticising the reporting of the case and added that the letter was “not from the media”.

Mr O'Higgins responded that the letter may have been affected by what was read in the media and said it was a cause of great concern that “the media would take a slant on a case and exert an influence”.

Grainne O'Neill BL, prosecuting, said she had considered the letter and taken an instruction from the Director of Public Prosecutions. She said the DPP felt there was no reason why Mr Justice Butler couldn't continue to deal with the case.

The judge accepted that but said the defence needed time to consider its position before he remanded Maguire on continuing bail. At the hearing today the judge said he was satisfied that there was no need for him to recuse himself from the case.

Mr Justice Butler said that he had considered the defence application to impose community service. He said that on a previous occasion Maguire was deemed suitable for community service and that he was ordered to carry out 240 hours for an offence of robbery in January 2014.

He said he had decided Maguire's offending required nothing short of a jail sentence.

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