A MAN who assaulted his ex-partner following a row over credit card bills was yesterday given a three-year suspended sentence at the Central Criminal Court.
Patrick Whelan (45), of O'Connell Street, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, was convicted by a jury last December of assault causing harm to Jennifer Kay at her home in Waterford on March 7, 2009.
Mr Justice Paul Carney said an assault on a woman must be treated with the "utmost gravity" and that the offence warranted a three-year term.
He noted that Whelan had no previous convictions, was an extremely hard worker and was highly thought of by his employer.
Whelan's employer had travelled from England for the sentencing hearing last week to support him and informed the court that there was a job open to Whelan in the future.
Mr Justice Carney suspended the entire term on the condition that Whelan keep away from the victim and be of good behaviour for three years.
Garda Damien Ryan told the prosecution that Whelan was in a long-term relationship with Ms Kay but it had broken up on New Year's Eve in 2008.
They were in regular contact with each other as Ms Kay was paying back €100 a week on a credit card bill that she owed to Whelan.
Ms Kay told gardai she was home alone on March 6, 2009, when she woke up to find Whelan in her house and that he attacked her.
Whelan later admitted to gardai there was a "physical scuffle" but that Ms Kay had "lashed out" at him and he "probably pushed her away".
Ms Kay was taken to Waterford General Hospital where she was treated for bruising to her shoulders, upper back, chest area and a graze to the side of her face.
In her victim impact statement, she said Whelan had "come into my house and viciously verbally and physically abused me. I was in physical pain for a week and unable to return to work for a month".
She said she had now made her house into a fortress.
"I can't stand being in crowds and I can't stand people behind me," she continued in her report.
She said she had to take anxiety medication for eight months after the incident and suffers panic attacks.
The defence said Whelan admitted a physical altercation had taken place over bills and that Ms Kay had lashed out first and he pushed her away.
"He has since apologised via text messages," the defence said.