Judge calls for change in the law to order therapy

A judge has said the law needs to be changed so that the court can order someone accused of domestic violence to undergo therapy even if the injured party withdraws a complaint.

District Judge Barney McElholm made the comment as 33-year-old Thomas Noel Scarlett appeared at the local magistrates court.

Scarlett, of Ballynagard Crescent, is charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and possession of an offensive weapon on July 12. The 33-year-old made an application to vary his bail conditions, to allow him to have contact with the alleged injured party.Defence solicitor Seamus Quigley said in the past allegations and counter allegations have been made by the couple, but they are generally withdrawn.

District Judge McElholm said: “In situations like this we need new legislation. Police should be able to refer the matter to the court. The court should then have the powers to make either or both parties attend therapy, anger management and domestic violence education courses”.

The judge refused the bail variation and said situations where allegations are withdrawn “wastes police and court time and doesn’t address the core issues between the couple”.

Scarlett will appear in court again next month.