Thursday 20 June 2019

Man who assaulted stepson and threatened to slit his throat avoids jail

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A man who assaulted his adult stepson and threatened to slit his throat in a row over keeping the garden tidy has received a fully suspended sentence.

David McDermott (43) with an address in Saul Avenue, Crumlin, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of assault causing harm at Summerville Avenue, Walkinstown, on June 23, 2017.

Judge Martina Baxter sentenced McDermott to two and a half years imprisonment, but suspended the entirety of the sentence provided he keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

Detective Garda Eamon Moloney told Lisa Dempsey BL, prosecuting, that Daniel Conlon (23) was living in his late grandmother's house, which had been left to him and his mother.

McDermott, who has a history of alcoholism, had issues with Mr Conlon living in the house, the court heard.

On the night in question, he “forcibly entered” the house after several drinks. When Mr Conlon told him he did not want any trouble, McDermott punched him in the eye.

As Mr Conlon lay in the foetal position, McDermott gave out about the state of the garden, which he said was a “jungle”. He also told Mr Conlon the house was not his and he could not live there rent-free.

He then punched him between five and 10 times to the head. When Mr Conlon told McDermott he did not respect him as a father, McDermott kicked him in the torso and threatened to slit his throat.

“Mr Conlon was in real fear of what was going to happen,” Det Gda Moloney said. McDermott left the house after an estimated 30 minutes.

Mr Conlon secretly recorded audio of the incident on his phone, which he passed on to gardaí the next day.

When interviewed by gardaí, McDermott initially denied assaulting Mr Conlon and said he simply exhorted him to get a job. He denied threatening to kill him and said he loved him like a son.

“I reared him from the age of six. I love him,” he told gardaí.

When confronted with the audio evidence of the assault, McDermott said he did not remember it. He told gardaí he had drunk a naggin of vodka and several pints before calling to the house.

He agreed his stepson sounded “very frightened” in the audio clips and he said he should not have scared him like that. McDermott has no previous convictions.

Defence barrister, Luigi Rea BL, said his client was still in a relationship with Mr Conlon's mother. They have four children together. He said there had been no more “adverse interactions” between the pair since the assault and both men had agreed to stay away from each other.

Mr Rea said his client was badly injured in a house fire when he was a baby and spent a total of 14 years in hospital receiving treatment for massive burns. He recently lost a lung as a result of those injuries he sustained as an infant.

The court heard that his father is currently in a critical condition. McDermott has worked as a butcher and more recently for a security firm.

Judge Baxter said the mitigating circumstances in the case were McDermott's early plea of guilty, his being in a committed relationship, his having four children, his lack of previous convictions, his good work history, his own health problems and his father currently being in ill health.

She said McDermott “should be ashamed of himself due to his cowardly and cruel actions”.

Judge Baxter commended Mr Conlon for not retaliating, saying that he was “more of a man that night than his step-father was”.

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