Jail for man who used ex as a ‘punch bag’

A 32-year-old man who used his ex-girlfriend as a ‘punch bag’ during a drink-fuelled tresspass and assault incident at her home has been sentenced to 10 months in jail with the final five months suspended with strict conditions.

Mark Thornton, with an address at 185 Tur Uisce, Doughiska, appeared before Galway District Court on Monday where he pleaded guilty to entering a private dwelling at Bishop O’Donnell Road and committing assault causing harm on a woman on November 28, 2010.

Garda Gerry Dunne told the court the injured party and the defendant had been in a relationship but this had broken up and the pair had “not been on good terms”. After meeting Thornton while out socialising and receiving 38 calls from him, the injured party decided to get a taxi home but when she arrived Thornton was waiting for her. The woman told Thornton to leave but he refused and tried to push his way into her house. After several failed attempts to get him to leave the woman allowed Thornton in to the front downstairs bedroom while she went to bed upstairs. Thornton then started calling the woman to come downstairs, saying he wanted to talk, but, when she came down he proceeded to assault her. Garda Dunne described how Thornton punched and kicked her, causing a number of injuries to the face and back. The vicious assault continued until a friend, who had been upstairs, heard the noise and intervened, telling Thornton to stop before calling the gardai. When gardai arrived the woman identified her attacker and was transported to hospital for treatment. Two medical reports, one from A&E and the other from a GP, were then handed into court.

Defence solicitor Fidelma Bane said her client and the injured party had seen each other while out socialising but had not spoken. She said Thornton, who had a lot of alcohol consumed and had little recollection, later got a taxi and waited for his ex to arrive at the house and a row erupted.

“He is deeply traumatised by the whole thing. He did try to apologise, he doesn’t know what came over him,” said Ms Bane.

“He used her on this night as a punch bag. She was punched to the face and head, she fell on the ground, one report says that at one point she lost consciousness, there was even a head butt involved. “This is very serious,” Judge Mary Fahy retorted.

The injured party told the court she had been in a relationship with the defendant for a year and had been “well broken up” by the time of the incident. She told Judge Fahy: “He hit me with a closed fist, I thought that was it but then I remember waking up on the ground and him over me. My friend came down and asked him what he was at and then I remember waking up by the bedroom door. I still have a lump on my head, my back acts up from time to time”.

Ms Bane said her client has not taken a drop of alcohol since the incident and was trying to turn his life around. “Alcohol can not be an excuse,” replied Judge Fahy.

Taking into account the guilty plea and that there were no previous convictions, Judge Fahy convicted Thornton and imposed 10 months in prison with the final five months suspended for a period of two years on condition that he enter into a bond of €300 to be of good behaviour and to stay away from the injured party and her property. Leave to appeal was granted.


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