At least 50 coercive control cases under investigation or with DPP for consideration

Gardaí expect series of coercive control cases before the courts this year

There are at least 50 coercive control cases currently under investigation or with the DPP for consideration, Garda sources have said. Gardaí expect a series of coercive control cases, some involving extreme physical and sexual violence, to come before the courts this year.

News that the volume of cases gardaí were dealing with was increasing comes a day after the first man convicted of the crime after a trial was jailed by the courts and two years after coercive control became a specific criminal offence.

Daniel Kane (52) was jailed for 10½ years after repeatedly attacking his former partner, including burning her foot, cutting her with a pizza slicer, headbutting her in the face and stamping on her arm, causing her multiple fractures, and stamping on her head.

Kane threatened to send explicit images of the woman to her family if she did not withdraw her complaint. He continued to threaten her over the phone from prison when he was being held on remand.


Garda sources said “at least 50” coercive control investigations were underway at present, a number of which were with the DPP for consideration. Another Garda member added some of the cases involved sexual violence and had worsened during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Cliona Sadlier, executive director of Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI), welcomed the fact cases were now coming before the courts and were being reported in the media. It meant Irish society was now “establishing a checklist that people can check their own lives against”.

‘Insidious and dangerous’

Sarah Benson, chief executive of Women’s Aid, describes coercive control as “an insidious and dangerous form of abuse” and commended the woman who gave evidence in the latest case.

“Her actions and courage, in the face of unimaginable intimidation and terror, will act as an example to other women currently trapped with abusive partners.”

Ms Benson continued: “Coercive control is a pattern of multiple manipulative behaviours used by one party to wear down, isolate and completely control another. Imagine if you had to explain every minute of your day spent outside the house to your partner.

“What if you were required to explain what you are wearing, who you are meeting with and why; if your phone was checked, your messages scrutinised and you had to account for every call. What if you had to ask your partner for money to buy for food for your children? If you were afraid of your partner’s violent outbursts, and friends and family were made to feel so unwelcome they stopped calling by?”

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times