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Monday 19 March 2018

'Horrifying. I opened the door to see my husband being viciously attacked' - Wife stunned by time it took gardai to respond

Sarah-Jane Murphy

A MAN viciously assaulted right outside his home by drunken youths over the weekend had to endure a 90-minute wait for gardai, his partner claims, as they were experiencing "a busy night".

John Handelaar (43) was punched and kicked in the early hours of Saturday morning, leaving him with several lacerations to the scalp, and swelling on the left side of his skull.

His wife said that his assailants had ample time to flee as gardai took "so long" to arrive at the scene.

Mr Handelaar, originally from London, and his wife Sabina Dent (42), a Manhattan native, have lived in Cork for the past ten years, and say they have never experienced violence on this scale in Ireland before.

"We were both awake at 3:30am; we are late-night people so we were sitting in our living room when we heard the commotion outside," Ms Dent told

She said that Mr Handelaar went out to ask the revellers to "move on" as he did several times a week.

John described his head injury as
John described his head injury as "swelling like a beachball" Credit:Twitter/@handelaar
John says "3 students kicked me in the head in the street" Credit:Twitter/@handelaar

"I heard some shouting but it was two or three minutes before I became concerned, when I realised that I was hearing the sound of punches connecting I knew something was seriously wrong.

"The pavement outside our home is very narrow, it's about 2.5 feet wide.

"I opened the door to see my husband on the ground, up against a car, being attacked. It was horrifying," she said.

Ms Dent said she saw people kicking her husband in the head and recalled that another assailant was "sitting" on him.

She immediately phoned 999.

"I was told by the 999 operator that a police car would be sent ASAP. However, when I rang back five minutes later I was told it was a busy night and there would be a wait.

"I was thinking in a purely linear fashion, all I could think was that the police need to come and stop what is happening.

"Due to shock it took me a full half an hour to realise that they weren't coming," she said.

Ms. Dent describes the lack of response by the gardai as "staggering".

"I am aware that real-life isn't like TV, but if you dial emergency services and report a serious assault you expect it to be actioned immediately."

She explained that she opted to drive her injured husband to the nearby Mercy Hospital rather than call for an ambulance as she believed it was the quickest option.

"The triage system worked like it should - John was assessed and put in a bed. He was told he would be seen by a doctor before the shifts changed. However it was several hours before a doctor came to him," she said.

The day after the attack, Mr Handelaar took to Twitter to vent his anger in relation to how gardai responded to his assault and spoke of his frustration at having to wait for hours before receiving treatment at Mercy Hospital.

He also had some choice words for University College Cork.

Defence Minister Simon Coveney offered his support, tweeting "I don't know why you didn't get assistance from the gardai after a serious assault. Hope you're recovering and I understand your annoyance."

Mr Handelaar is expected to make a full recovery once his head injuries heal in the next couple of weeks.

A garda spokesman said that they couldn't comment on individual instances.

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