Court reduces time attacker must avoid victim from 30 years to three years

In very violent attack that lasted over 30 minutes the man had broken down a door to continue the assault

 

The Court of Appeal has reduced from 30 to three the number of years a man must stay away from the mother of his children, whom he subjected to “a very violent assault” in their home.

In an attack that lasted over 30 minutes, the man had threatened to shave his former partner’s head and broke down a bathroom door to continue the assault.

The three-judge court found that the 30-year order had impacted excessively on his rights of freedom of association with his children, to further develop his relationship with his children, and to enjoyment of a family life, which involved his children.

Daniel Wildes (33) of Devitt Villas, Glasthule, Dublin was jailed by Dublin Circuit Court in 2018, after being found guilty of assaulting Natasha Cummins, causing her harm; she was taken by paramedics to hospital after the attack.

Judge Patricia Ryan sentenced him to four years in prison, but suspended the final year, providing he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of three years post-release.

However, another condition of the suspension was that he stay away from Ms Cummins, and in no way attempt to contact her or get another person to contact her, for a period of 30 years.

This led to his defence counsel asking the judge if she had indeed said 30 years. When she replied that she had, the barrister confirmed aloud: “Three-zero.”

The man later appealed this condition of suspension to the Court of Appeal.

His legal team argued the sentencing judge erred in law in making an order that required the appellant to avoid contact, direct or indirect, with his former partner for 30 years. The lawyers said that the judge had failed to give adequate weight to the effect that such a sentence would have on the appellant’s personal circumstances and his ability to access, and maintain a relationship with, his children.

The Court of Appeal on Tuesday found the sentencing judge was in error in making the suspended portion of her sentence “subject to the impugned condition”, although she had been “unquestionably acting with a worthy motive and the best of intentions”.

In a written judgment Mr Justice John Edwards, who had sat with court president Justice George Birmingham and Justice Patrick McCarthy, said the court found the condition was disproportionate insofar as it impacted excessively on the appellant’s rights, either under the Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights or the Charter of Fundamental Rights

This included a right of freedom of association with his children, his right as a parent to further develop his relationship with his children, and a right to enjoyment of a family life which involved his children.

“The condition was arguably so far-reaching in its terms as to amount to an unlawful punishment, not presently available under Irish law,” they said.

They quashed the sentence and re-sentenced the man, again to four years, with the final year suspended for three years.

However, this time, they imposed the conditions that the appellant should stay away from the injured party during the suspended period and, during that period, should not contact her himself or cause anybody to do so. An exception to this involved his solicitor contacting her in writing in relation to the welfare of their children.

The judges also said that he must comply with any recommendations by the Probation Service to undergo any course to address “his propensity towards domestic violence” and his anger management issues.

They said they considered these conditions to be necessary but proportionate.