Wednesday 16 January 2019

Man told partner he would kill her and their baby during violent assault after she said she was leaving him

Warning: This story contains testimony of physical abuse given in court, which some readers may prefer to avoid

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

Sonya McClean

A man who threatened to kill his partner, their six month old baby and himself if she left him has been jailed for five years.

Patrick Stokes (26) told Louise Kavanagh he was going to slit her and the baby's throat after threatening to rape her.

“You are going to die tonight,” he told her while he held her throat with both his hands.

Stokes, previously of Booterstown Halting Site, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to arson of their home at the site on February 2, 2017. The fire caused €21,000 worth of damage.

He further pleaded guilty to assaulting Ms Kavanagh causing her harm, threatening to kill or cause her serious harm and falsely imprisoning her at the Clayton Hotel, Sandyford on March 11, 2017. He has convictions for assault, hi-jacking, violent behaviour in a garda station, possession of knives and robbery.

Detective Garda Colm Gregan told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that Stokes and Ms Kavanagh were staying in the Clayton Hotel after he had rendered them homeless having set fire to their house the previous month. She had just told him she had left him.

The couple re-united some weeks after the fire and had been getting on well when Stokes became aggressive again and attacked and threatened Ms Kavanagh in their hotel room. He got on top of her and held her throat with both his hands until she struggled to breathe.

The detective said Ms Kavanagh managed to get away and made her way to the door but saw Stokes had grabbed their baby by the chest of his baby-grow while holding a knife in his other hand.

She feared that he would hurt the child so she returned to calm him down before he dropped the baby from a height on to the bed.

He then continued his attack on Ms Kavanagh punching her in the ribs and knocking her back on the bed before he again threatened to slit her and the baby's throat. Stokes threatened the woman with a broken wine bottle telling her he would kill her before she left him.

Det Gda Gregan said he then threatened to rape his partner and told her “you are going to die tonight”.

He agreed with Mr LeVert that at this stage Ms Kavanagh stopped struggling and Stokes got up off her. She jumped up and grabbed their baby before Stokes broke down in tears.

“She promised not to leave him. She was saying it to survive,” Mr Le Vert told the court.

Ms Kavanagh was left with a black eye and her throat and ribs hurt. The couple later attended a meeting together with their social worker, where it was discovered that the woman had overheard some of the attack through her voicemail after Stokes rang her during the course of the incident .

She was very concerned for Ms Kavanagh's safety and ultimately assisted her in leaving him. Stokes was questioned three months later after Ms Kavanagh made a complaint to garda.

In a victim impact report before the court she described the attack as terrifying and horrendous.

She is so afraid of Stokes tracking her down that she has a special phone which has a safety feature on it. She said she still suffers today with anxiety because of the assault but said without Stokes in her life, herself and her son's lives are good.

Judge Martin Nolan said the Stokes has a "difficult violent background" and accepted that he became addicted to alcohol and drugs “to deal with matters”.

He said Stokes lost control on the night and said the assault was very serious. “The way he treated his baby was extremely serious,” Judge Nolan said before he added that the threats issued were believable.

“I've no doubt that he regrets what he did but the harm was done. I believe he wants to reform but nobody knows if he can,” Judge Nolan continued.

“Thankfully your child wasn't seriously injured but you terrified her and she was right to be terrified,” the judge said addressing Stokes. “With drink and drugs you lose control and become a very violent man”.

Lisa Daly BL, defending said Stokes accepts the “serious nature of the offence” and doesn't want to minimise his behaviour.

She said he is sincerely apologetic for what he put his partner and their child through. “He says he has ruined his life and lost his family,” she continued.

Counsel said Stokes' mother self harmed in front of their children and he became homeless at 14 years of age. He resorted to drugs “as a coping mechanism”, Ms Daly said before she added that he is now clean.

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