Off-duty garda ‘thought she was going to die’ during attack by husband

Man allegedly punched woman several times and strangled her while daughter watched

 Kai Zhu (38) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to his wife at their home on Sallymount Avenue, on May 13th last. Photograph: Collins Courts

Kai Zhu (38) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to his wife at their home on Sallymount Avenue, on May 13th last. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

An off-duty garda assaulted in her own home by her partner has told a court that she believed she was going to die during the attack.

In a victim-impact report Meihan Meng described how she began tapping her fingers on her floor to let her husband know she could not breathe as he held her down on the kitchen floor and strangled her.

Kai Zhu (39) of Sallymount Avenue, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to his wife at their home on Sallymount Avenue, on May 13th last.

Garda Oliver McStravick told Antonia Boyle, prosecuting, that on that morning he attended at the home and found the woman with marks on her neck and bruising to her face and cheeks. He said the victim had just finished a lengthy night shift and she asked her husband to bring their three-year-old daughter out to play so she could get some sleep in their small flat.

The court heard that her husband did not do this and the parents began rowing. The woman told gardaí that she made a video call to her mother-in-law in China so that she could witness the row.

She said her husband was ignoring her and she went over to him and said “What’s wrong with you?”.

She said Zhu then turned to her and slapped and punched her across the face five to six times. He used one hand to choke her against a kitchen press and continued to slap and punch her with his other hand.

The woman said her daughter was in the kitchen and was screaming and crying and that at one point she may have blacked out. When she came to, her husband was lifting her up by holding her neck and he began punching and slapping her in the face again.

At one point she felt a sharp pain in the side of her face and lost her hearing. A medical report indicated that she sustained temporary hearing loss and was still receiving follow-up treatment for that.

The video call with Zhu’s mother was still happening on the victim’s mobile phone but Zhu then grabbed the phone and smashed it.

After his arrest Zhu admitted assaulting his wife, but claimed that she hit him first by striking him on the back with the child’s chair. He said they were both under stress from work and both getting less than three hours of sleep.

“We started altercation because of trivial family issues. We were both agitated. I didn’t realise it was so serious. In China it is common, usually we put together the next day,” Zhu told gardaí, through a Chinese translator.

He denied choking her and said that he had only ever slapped her and did not punch her.

In a victim-impact report, read by Ms Boyle, the woman described losing consciousness while her husband pinned her to the kitchen floor and used his hands to strangle her.

“I could barely breathe. I believed I would be dead plain and simple as I could only see red and black from my eyes. I used my fingers to tap the floor to indicate to him that I could not breathe.”

She said that after the attack she questioned herself about “where I did go wrong and why he would hate me so much”. She said she continues to awaken every night from nightmares where she is hit in the face and said that her daughter has being left with irreparable emotional scars.

She described the attack as “life-threatening, frightening, unfamiliar and scary” and said that she now locks her front door with four sets of locks and has to remind herself every morning that the accused will not be able to hurt her.

The court heard the victim was out of work on sick leave for 46 days after the assault.

Keith Spencer, defending, said the case was emblematic of the times we are living in where people confined to a small space became irritable and frustrated. He said that in his client’s case this unfortunately erupted into a situation that should never have happened and which has led to the breakdown of a formerly loving family.

He said his client admitted the assault and was deeply regretful and apologised for his actions. He said Zhu was adamant that he did not start the physical altercation but admitted he acted disproportionately.

At the time he said Zhu was under a lot of stress and involved in trying to import €300,000 worth of personal protective equipment into Ireland from China. He said while Zhu was in custody for three weeks after the assault, pending his release on bail, the shipment arrived at Dublin Port but could not be released.

Judge Karen O’Connor remanded Zhu on continuing bail for sentence next Wednesday.