By Eimear Dodd
A man who threatened a woman with a sword after he headbutted her has been handed a five-year prison sentence.
Sean McDermott (37) of Raheen Drive, Ballyfermot, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm and making threats to kill at the same address on December 17, 2019.
He has 153 previous convictions including three for assault.
Imposing sentence yesterday Judge Pauline Codd said McDermott had assaulted “an innocent party” then made threats to kill her.
This would have been a “terrifying experience” for the victim, Judge Codd said.
Detective Garda Michael McNulty told Katherine McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that the victim was walking home on the evening of December 16, 2019, when she heard someone shouting behind her.
The victim and McDermott started to talk, though they were not familiar to one another. McDermott said he knew the victim’s brothers.
He invited her back to his house and a third party arrived shortly afterwards to pick McDermott up.
The victim went in the car with them. During the journey, the car pulled in and the men appeared to buy drugs.
The victim, the other person and McDermott entered the house, and sat at the kitchen table, where a party began.
McDermott started to take drugs including cocaine and crushed Xanax.
The victim took some cocaine and began to feel sleepy.
Later, she and McDermott were sitting on the bed in his room chatting, when he started to smoke heroin.
At around 6.45am on December 17, the victim said she wanted to leave.
McDermott asked her to stay, saying he would drop her home later.
The victim insisted she wanted to leave, and McDermott became aggressive, asking her where she was going, then grabbed her neck.
He asked if she took him for a fool and accused her of taking drugs.
He then slapped her face and pulled her on the floor by her hair. He also headbutted her, and her nose started to bleed.
When McDermott saw the blood on the floor, he told her to clean it up.
McDermott then phoned someone and asked them to come over. Another man arrived a short time later.
Both men accused the victim of taking drugs. She suggested they search her, and the other man did this.
McDermott grabbed a sword in the room and told her it, “would be nothing for me to kill you”.
The victim was terrified. The other man grabbed her and slapped her.
McDermott’s mother was in the house and started to ask about the noise.
The two men told the victim they would bring her to the post office and take her social welfare payment. They also demanded €10,000.
The victim agreed to go with them and while they were walking downstairs, she managed to escape the house and raise the alarm.
Gardai observed blood on the victim’s jeans and a red mark on her neck.
Photos of her injuries were handed to the court. No medical report was available and the victim declined to make a victim impact statement.
The sword was recovered by gardai in a search of McDermott’s home. Blood stains were also observed on the floor of his bedroom.
When interviewed, McDermott made no comment.
Det McNulty agreed with Michael Hourigan BL, defending, that a lot of drugs had been taken by his client.
He also accepted that the guilty plea was of use to the prosecution and the victim had taken some cocaine during the incident.
Det McNulty agreed with Mr Hourigan that the evening had started in a “jovial manner”, but McDermott became paranoid and started making accusations before engaging in offending behaviour.
Mr Hourigan said his client had already spent a prolonged period in custody, during which he developed a drug problem.
He noted all parties were intoxicated on the night, but his client suffered a “high degree of paranoia”, which was not an excuse for his behaviour.
His client had worked for a time, but fell back into old ways. Mr Hourigan said McDermott is getting on well in custody and is stable on methadone.
Judge Codd said the use of the sword and McDermott’s aggression when the victim started to bleed were aggravating factors.
She said drug use was not a mitigating factor as it can be “quite frightening” for someone to be in the company of a person who is disinhibited.
Judge Codd noted that McDermott and another party had both intimidated the victim, asking her to transfer money to them following a violent assault.
She noted the mitigating factors including the guilty plea.
She said McDermott was at the point where he must decide to reform himself or continue to spend time in custody.
Judge Codd noted there are no signs of rehabilitation as this incident occurred shortly after McDermott’s release from custody on a separate matter.
Judge Codd handed down a six-year sentence with the final 12 months suspended in respect of the threats to kill count and four years for the assault causing harm.
Both sentences are to run concurrently and have been backdated to when McDermott entered custody.