Man facing sentence for coercive control of former partner

Judge adjourns case to June 8th so new probation report can be prepared

A 49-year-old man will be sentenced in June for coercive control of his former partner, sometimes in front of their children.

Paul Harkin, from Esker, Shanore, Kilchreest, Loughrea, is the third person in the country, to be successfully prosecuted for the offence of coercive control under the Domestic Violence Act 2018.

Harkin first appeared in custody before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in January when he pleaded guilty to knowingly and persistently engaging in behaviour that was controlling or coercive on a date between June 24th and August 13th last year, which had a serious effect on a woman.

He had also been charged following his arrest last year with three charges involving threats to kill, two charges of cruelty towards his children, one charge of assault, causing harm, and two charges of causing criminal damage.


Prosecuting barrister, Geri Silke, told the court in January that the plea to the coercive control charge was acceptable to the State on a full facts basis in relation to the other charges, apart from the charges relating to child cruelty, as the accused accepted the coercive control happened on occasion in front of the children and this had affected them.

Paul Carroll SC, defending, said in January that Mr Harkin had been in custody since last September and had been in "a bad way, mental-health wise" at the time of his arrest. He said that since going into custody his client had come under the care of a psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital and things had improved and he was taking medication now.

Psychiatric report

Judge Rory McCabe directed the preparation of a psychiatric report and a probation report and remanded Mr Harkin in custody for sentence.

However, Mr Carroll told the court on Wednesday that sentence could not go ahead as the probation officer did not have access to the psychiatric report prior to preparing the probation report presented to the court. Both reports had reached different conclusions, he said, and that issue would have to be addressed.

Counsel also clarified his client had not pleaded guilty to charges of alleged child cruelty and would be denying them. The judge agreed to adjourn sentence to June 8th to await the findings of a new probation report. He directed the probation officer be given a copy of the psychiatric report and suggested the officer base his report on its findings.