Thursday 18 October 2018

Violent man restrained from contact with intellectually disabled woman who is pregnant with his child

High Court Dublin
High Court Dublin

Tim Healy

A man said to have a history of violent behaviour who is having a baby with an intellectually disabled woman has been restrained by High Court orders from having any further interaction with her.

The woman, aged in her thirties and pregnant, has been subject to physical and emotional violence by the man who apparently has a history of violence in previous relationships with other vulnerable women whom he also had had children with, the President of the High Court was told.

The man had on a recent occasion smashed the woman's phone and laptop, barricaded her in her bedroom and thrown an object at her which left her with a black eye, Mr Justice Peter Kelly noted.

On another occasion, he smashed the frame of her bed while in a temper and had on occasions used derogatory language towards her. When she felt unwell during her pregnancy, he had also refused to bring her to hospital.

The evidence was she paid the rent on a council house they shared, he did not pay his share and she tried to cover that which left her without enough money for food, the court heard. She had contacted relatives looking for food on occasions.

The woman is  a ward of court and it is a criminal offence, under the relevant legislation, to have intercourse with a person whom the Act describes as “feeble-minded”, the judge said.

While that was an issue for another day, he was satisfied, on the evidence, to make interim orders restraining the man entering the house, coming within 100 metres of the woman, using violence towards her or having  any direct or indirect contact with her.

The orders were sought by lawyers for Patricia Hickey, general solicitor for wards of court, arising from concerns, shared by those involved in care of the woman, that she and her unborn child will not be safe if the man stays involved with her.

According to Ms Hickey, the woman minimises the physical and emotional risk the man presents to her and her child and he seems to have a position of dominance over her, having demonstrated a similar position in relationships with other vulnerable women.

The man has liberty to apply, at 24 hours notice, to vary or discharge the orders, which were made ex parte (one side only represented).

The woman’s adopted mother had been appointed as the committee representing her interests as a ward of court but was recently replaced in that role by the general solicitor when the latter learned of the woman's pregnancy and relationship with the man.

The woman was adopted soon after birth. She has a mild learning disability and was made a ward of court in 2009 after she secured an award of damages as a result of a road traffic accident. She moved out of her family home a few years ago and began a relationship with the man shortly after moving into a council house.

Her attitude towards the man fluctuates and her view she is fit to look after her baby is not shared by the HSE, the Child and Family Agency or the general solicitor, the court heard.

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