A judge has warned
perpetrators of domestic violence in Inishowen that
he will deal with them severely.
Judge Desmond Zaidan made his comments during the
case of 50-year old Patrick McLaughlin, Glentogher,
Carndonagh, who was convicted on Wednesday of attacking his
ex-partner, Catherine Burke, 8 Sliabh Sneacta,
Buncrana, with a hammer.
Judge Zaidan described the case as "tragic" and, in
a lengthy hearing, explored the reasons why victims of
domestic violence, find it difficult to break free of
Under cross-examination by the defendant's
solicitor, Micheal Canavan, Ms. Burke, a 47-year old
care worker and grandmother, said despite a history
of violence in their seven-year relationship she
would go back.
She believed she returned for a number of reasons
including "partly fear, partly love and partly
"I never loved a man in my life the way I loved
him," she told the court.
"The first year was perfect. I would thank God for
this lovely man."
When things began to turn sour, however, he turned
violent and had on different occasions, burned her
with boiling soup, stuck his thumbs down her throat
and burned her clothes, the court was told.
"Maybe it was my lack of self worth," she said,
adding that she had been free of her abuser since
the last attack and had received invaluable
counselling. This had helped restore her
self-esteem, she said.
In trying to explain her reasons for returning she
said "mixed signals" confused her.
"He was very loving and passionate in between the
violence," she said.
Ms. Burke said her ex-partner always presented a
civil and gentlemanly face to the public.
Sometimes, she said, she felt more in control
staying because she feared he would track her down
and hurt her if she left. She always kept her own
house "as back up", she added.
Judge Zaidan postponed sentencing until July 17th,
2007 and ordered a victim impact statement. He
ordered a probation report to include an exploration
of the defendant's anger management issues.
Meanwhile, he forbad the defendant to have any
contact with Ms. Burke and said he must pay her
"substantial" damages "as a gesture of (his)
remorse" aside from any sentence he would impose in
Judge Zaidan said McLaughlin would not be the first
or last man to appear before him on a charge of
violence against his partner.
He referred to a counsellor's report on Ms. Burke's
case and outlined a number of reasons why victims
stay with their violent partners.
He said, when attacked, victims can suffer Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder and when the partner
pleads with them to return, intense fear is
triggered and they may fall back on "a familiar
coping mechanism and play along for the sake of
their immediate safety". Often perpetrators
apologise for their behaviour, thinking it will help
them with a pending court case. Similarly, when the
violent partner pleads for the victim's return, she
becomes "confused by the mixed messages" and "taken
in by their inner longing to be loved". Judge Zaidan
addressed the defendant directly and told him this
was his pattern of abuse towards Ms. Burke. It was
particularly sad, he said, because she had truly
loved him. He said he had a "dual personality" that
gave him a propensity to violence and he badly
needed help. "Only a coward can lay a finger on a
woman, particularly a very vulnerable woman," he
told him. "Is there any reason why I should not send
you to prison right now?" he asked. After a
submission from defence solicitor, Micheal Canavan,
the judge adjourned sentencing until July 17th, 2007
on the defendant's own bond of €5,000 for a victim
impact statement and probation report on the
defendant's anger issues.