Woman granted protection order against ‘menacing’ husband

Family court hears man was ‘paranoid’ about virus and drank excessively every night

A woman who is working remotely from home told a court on Monday that her husband, who is not working, “walks around the house with his headphones on, not engaging” with her or their teenage children.

In an application to the Dublin District Family Court for a protection order, she said her husband had not been physically aggressive to her, but "his behaviour is increasingly erratic, and he has been acting in a menacing way".

“I get the feeling that he just wants me gone. I don’t trust that he is of sound enough mind to not do something that would hurt me.”

The marriage had been breaking down for years, she told Judge John Campbell, and she slept downstairs.


Row erupted

On a recent night she prepared and had dinner with her husband and their children, but a row erupted afterwards during which he told her to “watch her tone”.

“I said, are you threatening me, and he laughed, like a maniac laughing, and it really put the fear in me.”

She called the Garda, and was advised not to spend the night in the house. The next day, when she and the children returned to the house, her husband acted as if nothing had happened. However, he also said to the children that their mother had been “really crazy” to have called the gardaí, and that she was a “real psycho”.

Later she heard her husband on the phone to his sister saying that his wife was mentally unstable, and that he didn’t want to leave their children alone with her. Hearing this caused her renewed concern, and she again got in contact with the Garda, who advised her to seek a protection order.

“I’m not saying he’s nuts,” she told the judge, “but he’s clearly not right”. Her husband was drinking five cans of beer and a bottle of wine every night, and has a history of recreational drug use, she said.

He was “paranoid about the virus” and had been observing the rule about staying within 2km of their home, but now that the distance had been increased to 5km, she thought maybe he had access to drugs.

The judge granted the interim protection order, which means the husband can be charged if he breaches the order by acting in a threatening way towards his wife.

In another case a woman got an interim barring order against her “workaholic” husband who was putting her in fear for her safety because of his angry outbursts.

The woman told the court that her husband had found it difficult to cope since the birth of their first child, because of the unpredictability of the child’s sleeping patterns.

The man rarely took a holiday, though when the family did go on holiday some time ago, it was “the most miserable 19 days of my life”. Her husband was now “in a bad place, and the intensity of what has happened in the last weeks is frightening me”.

The judge said he was satisfied that the necessary threshold had been reached and issued an interim barring order, with a decision as to what to do in the longer term to go to hearing next week.

Drink problem

In another case an elderly man got an interim protection order against his son, who lives with him.

“He’s a very good worker. He keeps the house spotless. He looks after me,” the man said of his son.

However, his son had a drink problem that started when he was young and went to England to play for a top football team. “He’s great when he’s not drinking, but when he breaks out, he loses the plot,” the man said.

A woman was granted an interim barring order against her son, who is in his late teens and lives with her. The young man had been “squaring up to me” and making her life miserable, she said. “I know it’s the drugs, but he chose that road,” she said.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent