Monday 23 April 2018

Violent Gorey man escapes garda custody

Dean Ward, who escaped from Garda custody
Dean Ward, who escaped from Garda custody

Esther Hayden

A violent Gorey man who was jailed for falsely imprisoning a young mother in her own home and viciously assaulting her has escaped from garda custody.

Last year 30-year-old Dean Ward who had an address at Ballintlea, Gorey was jailed for assaulting Caroline O'Neill causing her harm, false imprisonment and criminal damage at her home in 63, Maderia Woods, Enniscorthy on November 29, 2015.

However last Tuesday Ms O'Neill was contacted by gardai who told her that on May 28 Ward has escaped from custody while being transferred from one prison to another and is currently on the run.

Ward hasn't been seen since escaping from custody and as he has a lot of English connections there are fears that he has fled to England to evade capture.

In a Facebook post Ms O'Neill uploaded a number of pictures of Ward asking everyone to share the post saying 'if anyone sees him contact your local garda station. He is extremely dangerous and needs to be back behind bars from my sake and for everyone else's.'

Inspector Pat Cody said that gardai were aware that Ward had escaped from custody. He said they were visiting a number of addresses where Ward had resided in the past to see if they could apprehend him.

'There is talk of him being in England but we don't know that for sure. He could turn up anywhere. We have an alert on our system to nab him as soon as he is seen.'

Last year during his sentencing hearing the court heard evidence from Garda Bernard McGinley who said that Ms O'Neill met Ward through the internet dating website Plenty of Fish. The two had corresponded for a short time before meeting up on a number of occasions.

They met up for the third time on the evening of November 28, 2015 and the offences were carried out in the early hours of the following morning, November 29, 2015.

On the evening in question Ms O'Neill and Ward went out to celebrate her birthday accompanied by three of her friends. During the evening they went to a number of licensed premises before going to Benedict's nightclub in Enniscorthy town.

Once inside the house a row ensued and during the course this Ward grabbed Ms O'Neill's mobile phone and smashed it. He then hit her in the face with a closed fist and knocked her to the floor.

Ms O'Neill then went to the bathroom to wipe the blood from her face and Ward followed her into the room. He hit her again in the face again knocking her to the floor. He also made a number of threats, putting Ms O'Neill in fear of her safety.

She then went downstairs and Ward followed her down and once again punched her again. Ms O'Neill managed to flee her home and made her way outside to her garden to escape from Ward but he chased her, put his hand over her mouth and pulled her back inside the house.

Once inside he locked the front door from the inside so she couldn't escape again.

Garda McGinley said that as a result of the commotion inside Ms O'Neill's home a number of passers-by became concerned and approached Ms O'Neill's home to see if they could help.

On hearing them, Ward fled the house through the back door while the people helped Ms O'Neill escape the house through her front sitting room window.

Ms O'Neill was brought to hospital by ambulance as a result of her injuries. A medical report said she had bruising to both her eyes, her back and her right flank.

Ms O'Neill was admitted to hospital for observation. Photographs taken within three days of the assault were shown to the court.

Ward was identified to gardai by Ms O'Neill through his online profile photos. The court heard it took some time to locate Ward and he was arrested on February 16, 2016.

During interview he admitted to being in Ms O'Neill's home and to having a row with her but he didn't accept her account of what happened.

In a powerful and emotional victim impact statement Caroline O'Neill said she feared for her life during Ward's attack.

'I'll never forget the shock and the pain from that first punch. I know in my heart and soul that if those people hadn't come to my aid on that night I wouldn't be here today.

'I and only I saw the rage in his eyes and felt his power as he rained down punch after punch, kick after kick. He told me that my children wouldn't recognise me because he was going to disfigure me.

'I'm only a shadow of the woman I was then. I honestly know evil now.'

Enniscorthy Guardian