Saturday 20 January 2018

Man who tried to murder his wife with a kettle-bell has jail term cut on appeal

Kettlebell (stock photo)
Kettlebell (stock photo)

Ruaidhrí Giblin

An Algerian man jailed for attempting to murder his wife by bludgeoning her in the head with a kettle-bell has had his jail term cut by one year on appeal.

Lounes Ouachek (45), of St Dominic's Terrace, Tallaght, Dublin 24, had pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the attempted murder of Ruta Ouachek (35) at that address on August 23 2012.

He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with the final three suspended by Mr Justice Paul Carney on July 21 2014.

The Court of Appeal found today that the sentencing judge erred in failing to take account of any other potential mitigating factors in Ouachek's favour and, accordingly, imposed a new sentence on him of 15 years imprisonment with the final four suspended.

Speaking on behalf of the three-judge court, Mr Justice John Edwards said Ouachek, an Algerian national had met his wife, a Lithuania national, in Germany in 2000. They got married a year later and moved to Ireland in 2005.

Following the birth of their daughter in 2007, Ms Ouachek entered full time education and Mr Ouachek – a devout muslim, the court heard - “developed a resentment of his wife's new found independence” and the little time she was spending at home.

Matters escalated in 2012, Mr Justice Edwards said. Ouachek took his daughter to Algeria but was subsequently persuaded to return by his wife.

In May 2012, they entered into a legal separation agreement.

In August of that year, he returned from Algeria and engaged in “stalking” his wife, demanding the return of various items and endeavouring to ascertain the whereabouts of his daughter by calling into several créche centres in Tallaght, Mr Justice Edwards said.

Despite obtaining interim barring orders against him, he said Ouachek called to his wife's home on August 23 and neighbours observed them arguing.

Among the items Ouachek was demanding to be returned to him was a kettle-bell. According to Ms Ouachek's account, she handed it to him while he was still outside the house but her next memory was lying on the kitchen floor with Ouachek stradling her striking her with the kettle-bell, Mr Justice Edwards said.

She managed to make her way into the bathroom where she locked herself in and was found later by gardaí covered in blood and seriously injured.

Ms Ouachek had fractures to her skull and facial bones and was later transferred to Beaumont Hospital.

After he tried to kill his wife, Ouachek left the house, pulled the blinds and locked the door before driving her car to Dublin airport.

He flew to Tunisia via Paris without telling anyone that his wife lay injured in a pool of blood for nine hours, Mr Justice Edwards said, and was subsequently arrested in Germany on foot on an extradition warrant.

Mr Justice Edwards said it was troubling that the sentencing judge made no reference at all to potential mitigating factors other than the three he identified – Ouachek's guilty plea, his previous good character and foreign nationality.

In conjunction with that, the sentencing judge “refused to retain” material handed up on Ouachek's behalf stating that he 'did not carry scraps of paper around the country' with him.

That failure coupled in this particular case with the fact the judge did not immediately proceed to sentence and that other potential mitigating factors weren't “ringing in his ear”, metaphorically speaking, constituted an error in principle, Mr Justice Edwards said.

Among the items handed into the sentencing judge were a number of positive testimonials from the Governor of Cloverhill prison, where he had been on remand, and letters from Lidl and a fish and chip shop testifying to his hard work and diligence.

Furthermore, a medical report stated that he had suffered a back injury in 2008, was out of work and had been prescribed anti-depressants for low mood.

Finally the sentencing court was handed letters from two of his friends who said Ouachek cared deeply for his family and always sought to provide for them.

Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, quahsed the existing sentence and imposed a new sentence on Ouachek of 15 years imprisonment with the final four years suspended.

He was required to enter into his own bond of €1,000 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour while in custody and for a period of four years post release.

Ouachek was also required to comply with all directions of the probation service and to have no contact with the victim in perpetuity.

When asked if he undertook to be so bound, he said “yes”.

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