A man held a broken pint glass to the throat of a woman he had recently met through an online dating site and set fire to her sitting room furniture and carpet following an argument at her home.
Michael Cubbard (40), 3 Connolly Terrace, Bohermore, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last April to assaulting the woman, causing her harm at her home near Ballinasloe on January 4 last year.
He also pleaded guilty to causing €2,345 worth of criminal damage to the woman’s furniture, clothing, personal effects and mobile phone on the same date.
Sentence was adjourned so that Gardaí could take a victim impact statement from the woman and for a probation report to be prepared in relation to Cubbard.
Garda Brian Dolly gave evidence at the sentence hearing last week that the woman started a relationship with Cubbard a few weeks before the assault took place after meeting him through an online dating agency.
She made a statement of complaint to Garda Dolly on January 5 last year that she had been assaulted by Cubbard the previous night.
Cubbard had called to her home with a new television to replace the one he had smashed during a previous altercation. The woman let him in and he set up the new television.
They sat watching TV together and after a while the woman questioned Cubbard about texts he was receiving on his phone.
He became angry with her and smashed a pint glass off the coffee table. He then held her down and held the broken pint glass to her throat.
Garda Dolly said the accused then threw methylated spirits on the couch and carpet while sitting astride the woman. He ripped his shirt sleeve off and set it alight with a cigarette lighter. He then threw the sleeves onto the couch and onto the carpet.
He also grabbed the woman’s mobile phone from her and threw it into the open fire and banged her head off the floor while on top of her.
Cubbard left the woman’s home at 2.30am and she contacted Gardaí the following day.
Garda Dolly said the woman did not want to come to court because she did not want to meet the accused.
In her statement, the woman said the assault had changed her life forever and she was now terrified and could not sleep at night in her own home.
“Every door in my house is now locked and I often get up during the night to check the doors are locked,” she said.
She said she could not meet anyone else because of the fear Cubbard instilled in her and because of the constant lies he had told her.
“I have lost all faith and trust in men. My physical injuries have gone but the damage done to my mind will never go away.”
Garda Dolly confirmed Cubbard had one previous conviction for assaulting another woman, causing her harm, for which he received a ten-month sentence in 1999.
Defence barrister, Conal McCarthy said Cubbard and the woman had a tempestuous relationship.
Cubbard brought €2,345 to court to pay for the damage caused to the woman’s home and wrote her a letter of apology. Garda Dolly said there was considerably more damage caused than what was previously thought.
Mr McCarthy agreed and said his client planned to bring a further €4,000 to court if given the opportunity to do so.
Judge Rory McCabe said the total lack of self-control and wanton violence used against a defenceless, vulnerable woman placed the assault close to the top of the scale of gravity.
The judge said the headline sentence was four and a half years for each offence before aggravating and mitigating factors were considered. However, he adjourned finalisation of sentence to February for the payment of further compensation and for Cubbard to be further assessed by the probation service.