Moneymore man grabbed ex by the throat in custody row

Magherafelt Courthouse.

Magherafelt Courthouse.

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A man who grabbed his ex-partner by the throat in an argument about custody of their young son, was ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service when he appeared at Magherafelt Magistrates Court.

Twenty-four-year-old Michael O’Neill from Tirgan Road, Moneymore, was also placed on probation for 12 months on a charge of common assault.

District Judge Oonagh Mullan imposed a two-year restraining order on O’Neill prohibiting him from intimidating or harassing the injured party in anyway.

She told the defendant that the courts took a serious view of domestic violence cases.

Referring to a statement made by O’Neill about the incident, the judge said: “You say that you put your hands around her neck, and you say it did not feel it was particularly hard. This must have been extremely frightening for her.”

Judge Mullan said defendant blamed his actions on his level of intoxication but, in her opinion, he was entirely to blame for what had happened.

“These types of offences will not be tolerated by the court,” she added.

The court heard that on August 21 last year, police were tasked to the incident and arrived at 4.20am.

A prosecuting lawyer said the injured party told officers that at approximately 3.30am her ex-partner came to the house and shoved past her at the door.

She claimed the defendant was verbally abusive during an argument over custody of their two-year-old son and then pushed the injured party to the floor.

Counsel said O’Neill then grabbed her by the throat and she had to fight to get him off her. He then left the house.

The prosecutor said the injured party was left with red blotches to her neck.

A defence lawyer explained that the couple had broken up for six months and following the break there had been some animosity. “Any time they were in contact it became an argument,” he said.

He said the injured party had invited him over to the house but clearly a violent altercation arose during discussion of their young son.

“He is a 24-year-old man in full time employment and apart from careless driving has no previous relevant convictions,” he continued. “His father is with him today and provides a good support base for him.” He pointed out that according to the probation report he was of a low risk of re-offending.

The barrister suggested that a probation programme could help drive home to the defendant the seriousness of domestic violence.

District Judge Mullan told O’Neill that he had broken the trust with his ex-partner which could jeopardise his future relationship with his son. “Your actions do not present you as a good role model for your young son,” she said.