Injured party the closest thing this city has to a saint, says Judge

editorial image

The victim of repeated domestic abuse has been described as the closest thing this city has to a saint by the District Londonderry Magistrates’ Court, Barney McElholm.

He made the comment as Patrick McGuigan (51), of Mimosa Court, appeared in the dock on a public order charge.

On hearing the evidence Judge McElholm said he had “tremendous admiration” for McGuigan’s wife, who, he said, kept getting let down by her spouse.

McGuigan pleaded guilty to attempting to damage a door at his wife’s house on October 6. The court heard he had 156 previous convictions, including a number of convictions relating to the same injured party including common assault, criminal damage, burglary with intent to cause damage and threats to kill.

An investigating officer also told the court there was a significant domestic history to the case and the defendant has breached court orders almost 30 times in the past.

In evidence the court heard that on Wednesday last, McGuigan attempted to gain entry to his wife’s house and kicked the door. The incident lasted over half an hour and police were called to the scene.

District Judge McElholm was told police opposed bail for fear of further offences being committed and there were genuine concerns that McGuigan would not adhere to conditions attached to bail.

Defence counsel Nicola Coulter said her client and the injured party had a complex marriage.

She said McGuigan was quite welcome in the family home when he is sober, however, she said McGuigan was not allowed into the house when he had consumed alcohol.

Ms Coulter told the court her client had an “extremely serious, long term addiction” to alcohol but, in his defence added that he had been attending counselling sessions.

She said he had been trying to abstain from consuming alcohol but, when he started again he found he couldn’t stop.

In an application to the court, Ms Coulter asked for the case to be adjourned so that the Probation Service could compile a pre-sentence report. She also asked that McGuigan be released on bail to live with his daughter.

Considering the request District Judge McElholm referred to the injured party, saying she was “the closest thing to a saint this city has”.

“She welcomes him back when sober and does everything for him,” he said.

“I have tremendous admiration for her but he always lets her down.”

District Judge McElholm told Ms Coulter that he was refusing to adjourn the case as a pre-sentence report would not tell him anything he did not already know.

Suspending a six-month jail term for two years, he said: “I am not fooling myself. He will be back”.