Judge jails man for three years after ‘sustained’ assault of girlfriend

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A 21 year-old Derry man has been jailed for three years and eight months after pleading guilty to an assault on his 16 year-old girlfriend which left her ‘fearful for her life’.

Kyle O’Brien of Kular Court pleaded guilty earlier this week at Derry Crown Court to falsely imprisoning his girlfriend, assaulting her and causing criminal damage to her property. He was sentenced today at a sitting of Coleraine Crown Court.

The court was told how a row had broken out between the defendant and his girlfriend on June 24 last year. O’Brien, under the influence of drugs, had threatened to “jump off the bridge” and had run out of his girlfriend’s house.

She had followed him and he had pushed her against a fence, called her a “slut” and told her she “would spend all her money on condoms”.

The injured party tried to call the police but O’Brien knocked her phone from her hand and kneed her three times in the genital area. She fell to the ground and he continued to kick her in the genitals. A passer-by tried to intervene and O’Brien dragged the injured party back to her house, locking the door and closing the curtains.

The court heard how he then took his belt off and fastened it around his neck, saying he would kill himself and it would be the injured party’s fault.

He then made her watch as he swallowed a number of pills before pushing her away and punching her in the face and around the body.

O’Brien then started to kiss and hug the injured party, making her fearful that she would be raped.

He also threw her hairdryer and straighteners against a wall, breaking them.

Eventually the injured party was able to make her way downstairs, where the defendant again tried to stop her from leaving the house. At this stage police arrived.

Sentencing O’Brien, Judge Piers Grant said he had taken the following factors into consideration - the defendant’s previous history of offending, his age and the age he was at the onset of his offending, his previous use of violence, the sustained nature of the assault, his willingness to use violence in interpersonal relationships, his poor problem solving skills, the lack of routine in his life and his history of family dysfunction.

He said O’Brien had left school at 14, after attending seven or eight different schools. He had been suspended on a number of occasions and expelled. His misbehaviour began at the age of seven years-old and his criminal record was described as being “very poor”.

His previous interactions with probation services were also poor, with Judge Grant telling him he had “paid no attention to previous warnings”.

“You have learned absolutely nothing from supervision orders. You have not engaged with or benefitted from these in any way.

“On top of this you harassed your victim, which would have no doubt had a significant effect on her.

“You caused bruising to the most vulnerable and intimate area of her body; this is totally unacceptable.”

As well as imposing the prison term, Judge Grant ordered that O’Brien have no contact, directly or indirectly, with the injured party for five years.

“Let me make this clear, if he sees her walking up the same street as him, it is his obligation to get away from her and stay away from her,” Judge Grant said.