Woman granted court protection order via video link

Women’s Aid and Dublin Rape Crisis Centre welcome move on remote evidence

Court Service staff say this is the first time  a protection order has been granted remotely in this way. Photograph: Alan Betson

Court Service staff say this is the first time a protection order has been granted remotely in this way. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

A woman who was self-isolating due to Covid-19 restrictions has secured a domestic violence protection order from a district court judge via video link from the kitchen of her own home.

At Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan granted the protection order via a secure video link to the woman who is unable to leave her home as she is self-isolating.

The woman appearing on the TV screens in court from her home told the judge she was fearful of her ex-partner after sustaining a severe bite injury to her upper cheek when he assaulted her earlier this month.

Judge Durcan said the local Court Service staff told him this was the first time that a protection order had been granted remotely in this way in any district court through the technology available.

The move was welcomed by Women’s Aid, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and solicitor, Ann Gillane.

Local Courts Service staff arranged the video link court sitting due to the risk faced by the woman, as she would otherwise have had to wait 14 days for her self-isolation period to expire before being able to come to court to give evidence for the application.

In her statement giving evidence of the alleged assault read out by Judge Durcan, the woman stated her ex-partner “bit my face, hit me and pulled my hair”.

The woman stated the gardaí arrived and took the man away.

Judge Durcan held her statement close to the court camera and, after confirming the woman’s signature on her statement, he said: “I am now placing you under the protection of the court.”

Access to courts

Chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Noeline Blackwell, said: “We truly welcome this development in court practice. It means that someone in need of protection can continue to get access to the courts and to justice even if they are physically restricted, as this woman was.”

A spokesman for the Courts Service said: “Our courts and offices remain open physically for those who need to avail of court protections. We have also initiated the use of remote video links and remote virtual courts via various online platforms. This has enabled us to organise for cases to proceed in many areas. Recently it was used in family law cases, and may prove a very good tool in accommodating such cases as we enter into a new period of Level 5.

“The Courts Service emphasises that we are ‘still here’ for those who seek protections from domestic violence – as we have been all through this challenging period,” he said.