Man gets suspended sentence for threatening to kill his family of five

‘He caught me by the throat and announced he was going to kill us – leaving me 'til last’

A 43-year-old man who grabbed his wife by the throat and threatened to kill her after telling her he would make her watch as he first killed their four young children has been given a three-year suspended jail term.

The man, who can't be named to protect the identity of the children, pleaded guilty to assaulting causing harm to his wife and five separate counts of threatening to kill her and each of their four children at their east Cork home on October 1st, 2015.

Det Sgt Seán Leahy told Cork Circuit Criminal Court how the man had come home on the evening in question and started shouting at his wife that he would kill her, before grabbing her by the throat in the kitchen and pushing her against an old radio with an aerial that cut her cheek.

The incident happened in view of their four children, who ranged at the time from two to 15 years. The woman told, in a victim impact statement, how it was “the most terrifying night” of their lives as she fully believed her husband was going to deliver on his threats.


“He caught me by the throat and announced he was going to kill us – starting with the children and leaving me til last. I knew from past experiences of his brutality that this was different,” she said.

“I could feel a scream in my throat but there was no sound. All I could feel was helplessness as he singled out one of the boys as the favourite and said he would start with him as he marched him from his bedroom and up to the sitting room.

“He kept me at the other side of the glass door and I could see my son’s face when his father told him ‘I’m sorry for what I am going to do’,” said the woman who managed to get between her husband and their son before coaxing him outside and allowing their child escape.

Cut cheek

The oldest child, a 15-year-old girl told how she witnessed her father threaten her mother , shouting at her “I will kill ya, I’ll f***ing kill ya,” and seeing blood on the floor and on the walls after he cut her mother’s cheek on the radio aerial.

The girl told how her father had stared at her and “had a cold, ruthless and terrifying expression on his face”, and she ran into her room and pulled her younger sister in with her and locked the door only for their father to spend 45 minutes banging and screaming at the door before he stopped.

The woman said she and her children had moved out of the family home and they were now living in rented accommodation but that she was always alert and always careful. She said she was never out of phone coverage from family or friends.

Judge Gerard O’ Brien said that he was concerned that a psychiatric report suggested the man was trying to minimise the incident and that he lacked insight into the impact of his spontaneous explosive outbursts and the catastrophic effects it had on his wife and children.

However, he was to be given credit for his guilty plea which spared his family having to give evidence while the fact that he had no previous convictions and was unlikely to reoffend – in that the family unit was now sadly split up and living apart – were also mitigating factors, he said.

Judge O’Brien imposed a three-year prison term on the charges of threatening to kill which carry a maximum 10- year term but suspended it for three years on condition that the man continue to engage with the mental health services. He expressed hope the family could get on with their lives.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times