Woman beaten by boyfriend challenges judge over sentence
A WOMAN beaten by her ex-boyfriend for 90 minutes in a horrific ordeal has spoken of how she challenged the judge who sentenced her attacker to community service.
Danielle Kerrigan spoke out after her ex-boyfriend was before the courts again, this time for attacking her new partner in November 2010.
Eamonn Harkin (24) from St Eunan's Terrace, Raphoe, Co Donegal, was fined when he appeared at Letterkenny District Court charged with assaulting William O'Donnell.
Ms Kerrigan (23) said she challenged Judge John O'Hagan after he sentenced Harkin to 240 hours community service last November.
Harkin had beaten her so badly he had left an imprint of his foot on her leg. The court heard he only stopped tormenting her during the Valentine's night 2010 attack when he took a break to take a drink of water.
Ms Kerrigan was punched and kicked throughout her ordeal. Harkin, the court heard, had also tried to strangle her.
"I was very upset after the sentence last November," said Ms Kerrigan.
"He (Harkin) had spent two weeks in jail awaiting sentence and I honestly thought he was going to prison, but I was shocked when he was given community service.
"I waited until the case was over and I did ask Judge O'Hagan about the sentence. He told me that he felt 240 hours community service was enough for the crime as well as Harkin doing two weeks in jail. I just couldn't have agreed with that after what happened."
After Harkin's latest appearance in court she said she already felt he wouldn't go to jail.
"We went to the District Court this time and we knew ourselves he wasn't going to go to jail but we are glad that we got him convicted.
"In my opinion, however, he got more of a punishment for punching my boyfriend than for the attack on me."
The Raphoe woman said the support of the community in the Co Donegal town had "helped us get through this".
She added: "However, I have to say that my experience of the courts has not been good, in my opinion. Women find it hard to speak out – but you have to stand up to bullies."
At the District Court hearing, Harkin had denied assaulting Mr O'Donnell. His solicitor, Michael Sheils, had said Harkin had lost his job as a butcher as a result of the cases against him and that people in Raphoe "didn't want to know him".
However, Judge Paul Kelly found him guilty of assault and fined him €250. Harkin was also fined €200 for failing to give his details to gardai after the November 2010 incident – nine months after the attack on Ms Kerrigan.