A woman has told a court that the emotional abuse she suffered in a controlling relationship was like torture and caused her to lose her sense of self-worth.
Daniel Lynch (25) of Longdale Terrace, Ballymun, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to coercive control of the woman on dates between September 19th, 2020 and January 15th, 2022.
He also admitted making a threat to kill her in a WhatsApp voice message sent to the woman’s phone on January 15th, 2022. The court heard in making this threat he was breaching a protection order taken out the previous September and that would be taken into consideration in sentencing him.
The woman, who is entitled to anonymity under the 2018 Domestic Violence Act, told gardaí that Lynch had complete access to her mobile phone and all her social media, including Instagram and Facebook. He also took her money every Monday, leaving her with only €20, she said.
She said he would verbally abuse her, telling her nobody loved her and that he hoped she would miscarry their child whom she was pregnant with.
Garda Daragh O’Connor told Emmet Nolan BL, prosecuting, that on September 14, 2021, gardaí responded to an allegation of assault at Lynch’s home in Ballymun. The victim told gardaí that during an altercation Lynch threatened to “kick the baby out of her” and began hitting her around the back and stomach with a broom handle.
Lynch was arrested and told gardaí in interview that he would never hurt the victim but admitted calling her names and insulting her. The next day she took out a protection order against him but she told the court that they made attempts to reconcile and she moved back in with him.
The court heard that Lynch was using the victim’s money to buy drugs and the relationship soured again. The woman was in touch with Tusla over their child’s welfare.
In January 2022, she texted him to say she wanted to end the relationship and he texted her asking her why and saying: “I’m not playing games, you’re messing with me head.”
A few days later, Lynch sent her a voicemail telling her: “The first chance I get, when I see you I’m going to murder you. I’m going to kill you stone dead. The first chance I am going to leave you in a hole.”
In her victim impact statement, read out by Mr Nolan, the woman said she came from a good family and when she met Lynch she had everything going for her.
She was working in health care and studying in college for a further qualification and had a “normal and fulfilling life”.
She said she can no longer identify with that person. She said Lynch made her feel special and sold her “a fairy tale”.
At the start of the relationship, he told he loved her and wanted to have children with her. When he found her birth control pills, he threw them out.
“I’m not sure how I let myself get caught up in this. I became isolated,” she said. She said he began to tell her who she could and couldn’t meet up with or even communicate with and she became cut off from her friends and family.
She said she began to change her behaviour to try to please Lynch to stop him getting annoyed. She said she became used to Lynch kicking her and pulling her hair.
“I lost all sense of self-worth. I was living to please someone else. Food was used as a way to discipline me. I always tried to be on my best behaviour to avoid escalation,” she said.
She said the physical abuse was easier than the emotional and mental torture and that she even considered ending her life as the only way out. She spent two nights in a psychiatric ward.
After she miscarried their first child in January 2021, she began to heavily use cocaine to cope. She said Lynch was giving her cocaine and “she couldn’t get enough of it”.
After his arrest for the threat to kill, Lynch told gardaí he was ashamed and humiliated by the message. He said he didn’t mean what he said in it and that he was sorry and full of regret.
John Griffin BL, defending, told the court that his client’s life was marred by drug use and that he experienced domestic violence while growing up. He said Lynch doesn’t remember much of the activity but accepts everything the victim said.
Adjourning sentencing to next February, Judge Martina Baxter told the victim, who was present in court, that she was a very brave woman who deserved every success. She said her victim impact statement was very powerful.