Strangulation law ‘inadequate’ says judge

Barney McElholm.
Barney McElholm.

A judge has said the legislation for dealing with cases of strangulation is ‘completely inadequate’.

District Judge Barney McElhlom made the comment as Martin Eugene McElhinney appeared at the local magistrate’s court.

McElhinney pushed a man against a car with such force that it smashed a window in the vehicle before grabbing him by the throat. The 42-year-old, of Lettershandoney Avenue, pleaded guilty to assaulting a man and a woman on May 26.

The court heard that the couple had been approached by McElhinney, the step father of the female complainant, in a local restaurant. He was asked to leave and when the couple drove home some time later, the 42-year-old’s vehicle pulled up behind them.

The man asked McElhinney to leave and a struggle ensued between them, involving pushing. McElhinney punched the man a number of times to the face before pushing him against the car and grabbing him by the throat. The woman was hit during the struggle. It was revealed the defendant does not have any criminal record.

Defence solicitor Seamus Quigley said his client is ‘ashamed of himself’ and of his behaviour.

He added that the incident occurred in the break up of McElhinney’s marriage and there has been no repetition.

Passing sentence, District Judge Barney McElholm said that in America strangulation is a ‘serious felony offence’ and the defendant would be facing a 15 to 20 year sentence.

“The government seem to be more concerned with the packaging of kippers than addressing real issues like this.

“We are still working with an act from 1861, which for this type of offending is completely inadequate,” he said.

The judge suspended a five month sentence for two years.

He also ordered McElhinney to pay £300 to each of the injured parties.

The judge warned the defendant “it is safe to say if there is any repetition of this there will be an immediate custodial sentence.”