A judge sympathised with the plight of a brain-injured defendant but felt he was left with no option other than jailing him for 22 months at the last sitting of the District Court (December 16 ) for three breaches of a banning order brought by his former partner.
“I’ve commented on the difficulties of this defendant’s behaviour towards his partner,” said Judge John Neilan about Michael Tully (36 ), of Curraghbawn, Drumlish, Co Longford.
Tully has an acquired brain injury sustained in a car crash in June 2008 and suffered from a memory loss that required him to write everything down to manage.
At his last appearance, the court was told how Tully had been accepted onto a three-month treatment with Headway Ireland but that it was not in a secure location.
“The sad reality of this case is that there is no institution in the State that could take Mr Tully,” said the judge.
Tully’s solicitor, Mr Owen Carty, asked the judge if he could backdate any sentence to October 15, the date of Tully’s last breach, so that he might be able to take advantage of the rehab placement in the new year but the judge disagreed.
“It’s not just the breaches but the instilling of fear and using a card for death threats,” said the judge. (Tully had included a death threat for his ex-partner in a birthday card to their nine-year old daughter ).
The judge pointed out how it wasn’t just the head injury that was totally to blame for the defendant’s behaviour.
“Mr Tully has engaged in excessive use of alcohol and illicit substances,” said the judge.
“He cannot get the help he needs in custody. This sentence is only putting back whatever help he can get,”’ said Mr Carty.
“I acknowledge the threats against his partner and I don’t dismiss the severity of them, but he can’t get the help while in custody.”
“The Executive’s lack of facilities should not stop me from executing a proper sentence,” said the judge.
“The court must maximise protection for the victim. I cannot administer justice on anticipated treatments.
“If something should befall [the named victim] or the daughter it would be very serious. Mr Tully knows the seriousness of his actions, he knows what he’s doing.
“His diminished responsibility does not remove his clear understanding of his situation. Drink and drugs are clear choices he has made. Has he made these choices through diminished responsibility?”
He sentenced Tully to 11 months in prison for each of the three safety order breaches, and ordered one of these to run concurrently.