Man charged with intimidating witness in child-slapping case

Accused remanded on bail to allow defence solicitor to get statements on new charge

The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his daughter, was charged with intimidating a witness at an earlier hearing of the case. File photograph: Frank Miller

The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his daughter, was charged with intimidating a witness at an earlier hearing of the case. File photograph: Frank Miller

 

The case of a 46-year-old man who was prosecuted for assaulting his three-year-old daughter when he slapped her in a supermarket has been adjourned after he was charged with intimidating a witness who gave evidence against him.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his daughter, was charged with intimidating a witness at an earlier hearing of the case at the Anglesea Street Courthouse in Cork on October 25th, 2018, contrary to Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999.

Garda Brian O’Connell of Bishopstown Garda Station gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution and told the court that the accused made no reply to the new charge of intimidation when it was put him following caution this morning.

Following some emotional scenes in court involving the man’s wife, Judge Olann Kelleher appointed solicitor Eddie Burke to represent the accused on free legal aid.

Mr Burke applied for an adjournment to allow him to obtain copies of garda statements in relation to the new charge.

The man agreed to abide by a number of bail conditions including that he would have no contact, directly or indirectly, with any Garda or civilian witnesses in the case.

Judge Kelleher remanded him on his own bond of €400 to appear again on February 15th.

Mr Burke also applied to allow the man, a foreign national, the opportunity to re-engage with the Probation Service.

In December, Judge Kelleher had found the case on assault charges proven against the man, and put the case back until today (Friday) to allow him engage with the probation service.

It has now been put back to February 15th, along with the intimidation charge.

In December, the court heard from a witness that she was shopping in Dunnes Stores in Bishopscourt Shopping Centre in Bishopstown, Cork on July 23rd, 2017, when she heard a child crying in a high-pitched voice and she noticed a man trying to push the child’s legs into a shopping trolley seat.

“She was trying to get her legs out and he was trying to get them back in,” said the woman, adding that the child continued screaming in a high-pitched voice as the man went around the shop and she again encountered them in the car park when the man was at his car.

She saw the man standing beside the open rear door of the car, swinging his hands in to the car and while she couldn’t say with 100 per cent certainty what he was doing, she was quite sure that he was not handling the child gently as the child was screaming and her voice was becoming more high-pitched.

Another woman told how she too noticed the man swinging his hands into the car and while she could not see what he was hitting, she heard him shout three or four times “Have you enough now?” and she believed the child was being hit in the back seat of the car.

She was deeply upset and unsure what do as she feared for the child’s safety if she confronted the man and she had no idea how might react or what he might do so she took a photograph of his car registration and drove to Togher Garda Station where she reported the matter to gardaí.

Garda Brian O’Connell said he traced the car registration and called to the man’s house three days later and took a cautioned memo of interview when he said he did not remember if he had been in the shopping centre on July 23rd, but he strongly denied ever hitting or harming his daughter.

Garda O’Connell said he obtained CCTV footage from the shopping centre and invited the man to Bishopstown Garda Station where he again cautioned him and took a memo of interview, but the man and his wife left when he told them that the CCTV footage did not show him striking his daughter.

The man took the witness box to deny the charge and said that he never hit or struck his daughter as he believed that if she was subjected to violence, then she too would use it as a means to get what she wanted and he used other deterrents such as removing her toys to get her to do what she was told.

He said that English was not his first language and he would never have said to the child, “Have you enough now?”, as one of the witnesses had alleged and while they may have seen and heard the child screaming, he did not hit her and he believed that they were exaggerating what they had seen.

“I have never resorted to violence, I have never hit my kid and I never will,” said the man, who produced a report from a GP which stated that the child had no injuries when she was examined days after the alleged incident in the car park.

Judge Kelleher said that it was a very sad case and he had no doubt the man was a good father most of the time, but he found it incredible that the man could not remember if he was at Dunnes Stores on July 23rd when he was interviewed about it by Garda O’Connell just three days later.

He said he found the two independent witnesses to be credible and the facts proven but he was anxious to ensure the best for both for the defendant and the child so he adjourned it until today for a probation report while the case has already been referred to Tusla.