The first man to be convicted of coercive control by a jury in Ireland has lost an appeal against his 10 and a half year sentence for making his partner’s life a “horror show” with repeated violent assaults, threats, intimidation and humiliation.
During a 20-month relationship, Daniel Kane (54) repeatedly attacked the woman, including by burning her foot, cutting her face with a pizza slicer, headbutting her when she was recovering from nasal surgery, and punching her and stamping on her arm, causing her multiple fractures.
On other occasions, he stamped on her head and strangled her, leaving finger marks along her throat. After being charged with the attacks and while in custody, Kane threatened to send explicit images of her to her family if she did not withdraw the case.
In November 2020, a jury convicted Kane of Waterville Terrace, Blanchardstown, Dublin, of coercive control, intimidation, assault and 12 counts of assault causing harm.
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He was sentenced to 10 and a half years by Judge Elma Sheahan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in January 2021.
At the Court of Appeal on Thursday, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said the court was dismissing Kane’s appeal as there had been no error in principle made by the trial judge when sentencing the appellant.
Ms Justice Kennedy said Kane had subjected the woman to a “campaign of fear and humiliation” causing her to be “fearful, submissive and on edge”.
Ms Justice Kennedy said his coercive control under the Domestic Violence Act 2018 commenced in January 2019 and lasted until September 2019.
“The injured party made statements outlining common conduct on the part of the appellant, describing how she was living under the constant threat of violence, waking up daily not knowing if she would be beaten or not and how she would be awoken by the appellant roaring abuse and shouting into her face,” said Ms Justice Kennedy.
“She described emotional abuse and that the appellant would insult her, using demeaning, aggressive and abusive language. She recalled an incident where she was made to sit in the front room of the apartment unclothed while the appellant berated her.
“The injured party also described controlling behaviour, that the appellant interfered with her relationship with her family and her access to her friends. She stated that the appellant’s behaviour left her meek and submissive and had a serious impact upon her. She described how she was constantly on edge, walking on eggshells, waiting for the next act of violence,” said the judge.
Ms Justice Kennedy said the grounds of the appeal against severity were that the trial judge “failed to have proper and adequate regard to the proportionality of the totality of the sentences imposed in all the circumstances of the case, in particular, the accused’s age, previous good character and personal circumstances”.
“The fact that she did not attend hospital for a couple of days with a comminuted fracture of her arm is telling in itself of the atmosphere in the home.
“His behaviour was prolonged, oppressive, domineering, manipulative and frequently brutal - psychologically and physically - designed to humiliate and degrade her and place her in constant fear. He used different methods of controlling and coercive conduct - violence and threats of violence, humiliation and verbal emotional abuse.
“His moral culpability was high and correctly found to be so by the sentencing judge. The harm done to the injured party was significant and as a consequence, we do not find any error with the judge placing the offending in the mid-to-upper range of penalties available,” said Ms Justice Kennedy.
The judge said it was “difficult to see how the overall, ultimate sentence of 10.5 years of actual incarceration is disproportionate”.
“In the circumstances of these, serious, prolonged offences, the nature of the activity, the appellant’s controlling and coercive behaviour, the injuries sustained to the injured party, both physical and emotional, we are not persuaded that the appellant has demonstrated an error in principle and, accordingly, the appeal is dismissed,” said Ms Justice Kennedy.
At the appeal hearing, Kane’s barrister Padraig Dwyer SC told the court his client was appealing the length of his cumulative sentence, submitting to the three-judge court that it was “excessive”.