Sunday 8 December 2019

Man receives four year sentence for sustained violent attack on ex-girlfriend

Criminal Courts of Justice
Criminal Courts of Justice

Sonya McLean

A man who carried out a sustained violent attack on his ex-girlfriend during which he bit her ear has been sentenced to four years with the last 18 months suspended

Robert Melia (32) of no fixed abode pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Elizabeth Clifford (then 25) causing her harm on June 29, 2012. He had four previous convictions for possession of firearms, trespass, burglary and public order.

Melia and the victim had been in a long term relationship between 2008 and 2010 and were in an on off relationship at the time.

Garda Nollaig Meaney told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting that Melia called to Ms Clifford’s house at one in the morning while she was minding a young boy. She allowed him to use the bathroom but asked him to leave when he was done because she knew he had been drinking.

Melia then came into her sitting room and called her “a fucking bitch” before he hit her “out of nowhere” to the side of her head.

Gda Meaney agreed with Ms McGowan that what followed could only be described as “a sustained attack” during which Melia threatened her “I am only warming up. You are going to die.”

Melia continued to hit Ms Clifford before he said “Look at my eyes, I am telling you. I am going to kill you.”

The victim later told gardaí that it felt like her head was going to explode. She curled up and tried to get away from him but he demanded she turn around before he bit her right ear.

Melia then got on his honkers, locked his jaw onto Ms Clifford’s ear and shook his head, in what she described as an attempt to bite her ear off.

He then ran off to the kitchen and she managed to get to her feet and get out of the house where a neighbour was standing in her garden.

The gardaí were contacted and Melia was arrested at the scene after being restrained by local people.

Ms Clifford was taken to Tallaght Hospital where she received a number of stitches. She later underwent plastic surgery. A medical report and victim impact report were handed into court but neither was read out.

Gda Meaney said Melia subsequently told gardaí in interview that he was usually good natured but it “all went crazy” that night. He said he had no recollection of the night and showed gardaí defensive marks he had on his arms.

He said he had just wanted to sleep on Ms Clifford’s couch. His knuckles were swollen but he told gardaí he didn’t hit women.

He said he was under the influence of both alcohol and drugs, had no recollection of biting the woman but was sorry.

Sandra Frayne BL, defending, handed a psychological report and a psychiatric report into court.

She said Melia had spent two months in the Central Mental Hospital during which he was assessed as having depression having initially been admitted on the understanding that he may have been suffering from psychosis.

She said he pleaded guilty to an offence he had no recollection of committing and was spending his social welfare money on alcohol at the time.

Counsel submitted that Melia required both medication and cognitive therapy upon his eventual release from prison.

Judge Martin Nolan described the attack as “a violent and serious assault”.

“At times she must have felt she was going to be killed or seriously injured,” the judge said and noted from the medical report that Ms Clifford needed plastic surgery and stitches for the injury to her ear.

He sentenced Melia to four year in prison but suspended the final 18 months on condition that he be under probation supervision for 18 months.

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