Monday 25 June 2018

'An assault is an assault' - Mum attacked by ex claims domestic attackers treated 'more leniently' by courts

Jessica Bowes is now helping others escape from abusive partners

Jessica Bowes in hospital after the attack (left) and Jessica today (right)
Jessica Bowes in hospital after the attack (left) and Jessica today (right)
Jessica Bowes with Jonathan McSherry (34), of Cedarbrook Walk, Cherry Orchard, Dublin
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

A young mother violently beaten and left for dead by her ex partner has claimed sentences for domestic attackers should mirror those of other assaults.

Jessica Bowes (34)  begged for her life during the "merciless" beating by Jonathan McSherry (35) in the days before Christmas 2015.

Mc Sherry, a former soldier, breached a barring order to go to Ms Bowes’ home where he waited for her to return from a night out. High on cocaine, McSherry repeatedly punched and kicked his victim, fracturing her eye sockets, face and skull.

The mother-of-two was left unconscious and in a “very perilous position”.

Despite this McSherry was jailed for only two and a half years after the court decided he would not be tried for attempted murder.

Speaking to Independent.ie Ms Bowes said it was her belief that those who carry out attacks on spouses and partners are often treated more leniently than those who perpetrate random assaults.

Jessica pictured after her brutal beating
Jessica pictured after her brutal beating

“I’m happy that I went all the way with the charges but I was a bit let down with the sentence. In most of the domestic abuse cases that I have come across they give miserable sentences.

“The system appears to handle cases like that differently. If I was attacked by a stranger I believe there would be a much more significant sentence.”

Asked why she believes this Ms Bowes said: “It is perceived as a lesser crime. It shouldn’t make a difference if your attacker is known to you or not, an assault is an assault.”

Ms Bowes was in an “on and off” relationship with McSherry for three years and the couple had two children together.

Throughout this tumultuous period the ex-soldier subjected his partner to physical and emotional abuse.

She eventually split from him in late 2015 and he launched the horrific attack shortly after. Exclusive CCTV, obtained by Independent.ie, shows McSherry waiting outside her home at Grange View Way, Clondalkin, on December 20, 2015 for 45 minutes.

The footage shows that when she returned home in the taxi he punched her to the ground before kicking her at least four times.

Ms Bowes believed she was going to die in the attack and was left with permanent scarring and nerve damage.

The court heard there were fractures to her skull, eye sockets and cheek bone. The imprint of a shoe was left on her face and there were boot marks under her chin.

She had a metal plate put into her face. Her memory was impaired and she relied on her 10-year-old daughter to remind her of the younger children's birthdays.

In spite of all of this McSherry was not tried for attempted murder and the maximum sentence a judge could hand down to him was five years - he was jailed for three and a half with 12 months suspended.

Speaking almost two years on from the incident the young mother said her life has completely turned around for the better.

“I have healed. I have healed more than I ever thought was possible mentally, emotionally and physically. My life has changed in so many positive ways. I am finally free of the abuse and no longer live in fear or under threat.

“I am happy. I enjoy each day and am grateful for things I was once too worn out to care about like my happiness, my mental health, my children, my family, my friends. I am happy, I am healthy and I am still shining despite it all.”

Ms Bowes said that despite her anger with the length of the sentence she is still delighted she went through the court process and has urged others to do the same.

A number of other women have contacted her since the court hearing last December seeking advice.

“I had a girl from Galway contact me and she said her mam saved all the clippings from my trial to show to her. When she went home her mother made her read all the stories and that girl decided to stay at home with her mam and dad and didn’t go back to him. One woman had to have her eye removed to have blood clots cleaned.

“I have spoken to women who are out walking the roads at night because they have been kicked out by their partners to stop the baby crying.”

She said she would advise all of these victims to contact Women’s Aid.

“I tell them that they can be happy again, that's my message, you can take your happiness back. There is help out there, you are one call away from changing your life.”

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