Man choked, slashed and beat partner who was kept ‘under his dominion’
A woman who was choked, beaten, and slashed with a knife by her partner grew so fearful of his escalating abuse she slept with a hammer under her pillow.
Martin Mulqueen (53), originally from Ballynote, Kilrush, Co Clare, but with an address in Bawn Street, Strokestown, Co Roscommon, is the third person to be jailed for coercive control in Ireland.
Mulqueen pleaded guilty to three sample charges, including coercive control, assault, and assault causing harm on dates between March and October 2019.
Mulqueen initially faced nine charges relating to the abuse of his partner, including a threat to kill. Following negotiations between his defence team, led by solicitor Colum Doherty, and the DPP, Mulqueen pleaded guilty on the third day of his trial in December 2020, sparing his victim the ordeal of giving evidence.
The remainder of the charges were accepted on a full facts basis.
Prosecution counsel Cathal O Braonáin detailed to the court a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour that culminated in an incident where Mulqueen cut the woman’s wrist with a bread knife and tried to strangle her with the sleeve of a raincoat.
The woman maintained contact with Mulqueen after his arrest on these charges and did not wish to make an impact statement but requested through counsel her identity be anonymised.
The court heard that in April 2019, Mulqueen smashed his phone during an argument, and then the two began sharing a phone. He subsequently deleted her friends’ phone numbers.
Later, having replaced his phone, he then broke her phone, making her uncontactable to family and friends except through him.
The court heard Mulqueen also attempted to drive a wedge between his former partner and her children, mother, and extended family.
On December 31, 2018, he told the victim that both of them would resign from their place of work, as he was not happy there.
Over the coming months, the court heard Mulqueen’s alcohol abuse escalated, and the victim noticed a marked change in his behaviour.
The first serious incident of violence occurred in April 2019, when the accused slapped the victim across the head.
On another occasion, while the victim was in bed, she told gardaí Mulqueen beat her “black and blue and purple” with his shoe.
On July 8, 2019, at home in Clarecastle, Mulqueen launched another vicious attack on the woman. She told gardaí that Mulqueen grabbed her by the shoulder and threw her on the bed.
She said: “He beat me and beat and beat me.”
Gardaí were called to the house by the landlord of the property, but the victim declined medical assistance or to make a statement.
Following this attack, the woman moved back to her mother’s house in Galway for four weeks. Mulqueen sought treatment for alcoholism but continued to contact the woman, saying he could not live without her.
At a later point in the relationship, the couple moved to Strokestown, Co Roscommon, where initially life was good.
However, she began to notice another change in his behaviour, and on October 15, he again brutally attacked her and cut her with a bread knife.
The court heard Mulqueen beat her with his fists on her face, ribs, stomach, and back.
The following day Mulqueen was observed acting aggressively to the victim in a takeaway in Roscommon.
A member of staff observed the victim had visible injuries and was shaking with fear.
Following this, the victim made a statement to gardaí, and Mulqueen was arrested on October 20, 2019.
During questioning, he repeatedly denied attacking his partner and claimed 90pc of her statement was false. He also claimed she cut herself with the breadknife.
In the days leading up to his arrest, the court also heard, Mulqueen sent the victim a large volume of messages ranging from abusive to declarations of love, and repeated requests she withdraw her statement.
Sentencing, Judge Comerford said Mulqueen isolated his victim from her family support and ensured she was under his “dominion”.
He said that although Mulqueen’s guilty plea came very late, it did spare the victim having to give evidence.
He handed down a combined sentence of 54 months, suspending the final 20 months for four years.
The sentence was backdated to the time he went into custody.
The accused had to place himself under the supervision of the Probation Service for one-year post-release.