Family Court: Barring order granted after husband’s break-in

Estranged spouse broke into family home, but told court entitled to key to own property

A domestic violence barring order was granted to a woman at the Dublin District Family Court on Thursday after her estranged husband broke into the family home while she was out.

The man said he was entitled to move back into the home and had asked for a key, but his wife refused to give him one. Gardaí told him he had not broken any law, he told Judge Alan Mitchell.

The court heard the husband moved out of the family home in 2013 and, in 2014, a domestic violence safety order was granted against him, requiring him not to use violence or threaten to use violence against his wife.

Giving evidence, the wife said she had not applied to renew the safety order because matters had “settled down”. But last November, her estranged husband began contacting her again. He sent a solicitor’s letter demanding keys to the family home and she responded through her solicitor.


Then he began contacting her directly, calling to the house, “banging on the door and windows” and terrifying her and their daughter, a young adult.

She said her husband had a history of depression.

On a day in early January, while she was at home, he banged on the door and windows and rang the doorbell, and when she didn’t answer he went away. She went out to collect her daughter from work and when they returned, he was in the house. He had put all the lights on, opened all the blinds and was waving at them, she said.

Joint owner

Her daughter was very upset and crying in the car and she felt threatened. She called gardaí and he eventually left. The next day, she got a temporary protection order, which expired on Thursday.

The husband’s solicitor said his client was entitled to a key to the house, since he was a joint owner, and “all of this would not have happened” if his wife had just given him a key.

“The only reason you brought this application was so that you would continue to have exclusive use of the house,” the solicitor suggested.

The wife said she was aware the house would have to be sold once there was a legal separation.

Giving evidence, the father said his landlord had given him notice and he needed somewhere to live. He agreed he had broken a small window to gain access to the house, but was not violent. He put on the lights so his wife was not surprised when she came home.

He described himself as “desperate” and said his wife was living in the house rent-free and she and his daughter were working, while he was struggling to pay rent and had his own problems.

The judge asked him why he thought his wife and daughter were upset on the day he broke in.

“They hadn’t seen me for a while, basically,” the husband said.

He said gardaí told him he hadn’t broken any law because he was a joint owner. The judge said it was not acceptable to come back and break into the home. He granted a one-year barring order, requiring the husband not to beset or enter the property, and suggested it might help “concentrate minds” on getting on with the separation.


In another case, the judge adjourned a maintenance application when the applicant mother, did not appear in court.

Her former partner did appear, along with his sister, who did most of the talking for him. She told the court her brother was not the father of the child for whom he had been ordered to pay maintenance. She said the couple “got together” when the woman was eight months pregnant.

“He thought they’d be together for life and she asked him to put his name on the baby’s birth certificate and he said okay,” she said. They believed the woman had since left the country. The judge advised the man to get legal advice.

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland is a crime writer and former Irish Times journalist