A judge has refused a safety order to a husband who locks himself into his own bedroom at night out of fear of his wife.
At the Family Court the judge refused to grant the safety order, saying the man had not met the standard required for the court to confirm the order.
In his ruling, the judge said he found the father had engaged in “contemptible behaviour” in recording a conversation with his daughter over what she saw during a domestic argument between the parents.
In recording the conversation, he “engaged in behaviour which is damaging to his children”, the judge said.
The man had said he was in fear, but the judge said he was guided in the case by what was in the best interests of the children.
In evidence, the man said his wife has called him a “scumbag, knacker, that I have no friends, that I was going to lose everything and no one wants me”.
The man said his wife “is demeaning towards me, belittles me and makes me feel worthless. I feel really intimidated and helpless.”
The man said he sleeps in a separate bedroom to his wife. He said: “I changed the locks on my own room. I lock myself inside the room at night because I am in fear of her.”
The man brought the safety order application after an incident at breakfast earlier this month in which he said he was put in fear after his wife threw a knife into the sink while they were arguing.
‘Waving the knife’
Under cross-examination, the man told the court: “It was an eye-opener, it could have been worse, it could have been directed at my head. She was waving the knife at me.”
However, the wife’s solicitor told the court her client was making sandwiches at the time and will say she dropped the knife into the sink and there was a loud bang.
The dropping of the knife occurred during an exchange between the two concerning the husband’s work commitments. The man said his wife told him “don’t you f-in start with me’ as they argued.
The man had previously obtained a protection order from the court, and admitted under cross-examination he told his wife during the course of the exchanges that he would contact gardaí if she interfered with his work commitments.
A protection order is a temporary order that accords the same protection as a safety order. A safety order can be granted for up to five years and does not require the person the order is made against to leave the family home.
The man said that after the protection order was granted, the situation at home improved and his daughter said: “At least mammy and daddy aren’t fighting any more.”
On seeking the safety order, the man told the court: “I wouldn’t have done this unless I felt I was in danger.”
The wife’s solicitor said her client would deny there had been any verbal abuse from her.
The husband said the two have a car loan in both names and denied he told his wife he would report the car stolen to gardaí if she did not give him the keys.
The man admitted recording a conversation with his daughter with her knowledge over what she saw during the ‘knife’ incident. He said: “I asked her what happened between me and mammy and she said that mammy threw the knife.”