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Woman (29) dies following alleged assault in Ennis last month

Sharon Bennett, a mother of two, suffered serious head injuries on 28 January.

Image: Leah Farrell

A WOMAN WHO was subjected to an alleged serious assault in Ennis last month has passed away in hospital.

29-year-old Sharon Bennett, who had two children, died at University Hospital Limerick in the early hours of this morning – 13 days after she was admitted to the hospital.

Ms Bennett was brought to hospital suffering serious head injuries after being allegedly assaulted by her boyfriend, Patrick Ballard (34) in Ennis’s Market area on the evening of Thursday, 28 January last.

The mayor of Clare, Councillor Mary Howard said today: “It is absolutely heartbreaking to hear that two children will be left without their mother.” 

“It is so sad that they grow up and their Mammy isn’t there,” she said.

“My thoughts and prayers are with her family and her friends who are absolutely heartbroken at this time and I say that on behalf of the people of Clare.”

Ms Bennett, a Wexford native, had her two children from a previous relationship.

Supt Brendan McDonagh of Ennis Garda Station ssaid: “It is very sad. Sharon Bennett had severe injuries to her brain and unfortunately she didn’t make it.”

Supt McDonagh confirmed that Sharon Bennett “passed away in the early hours of this morning at Limerick hospital”.

Supt McDonagh stated that gardaí have allocated a level of resources into the investigation to date that would be normally given to a murder investigation.

He stated that following her death “we will be reviewing the charge as it stands. The accused has been charged with assault causing harm and we will consult with the DPP on the matter of further charges”.

Supt McDonagh stated that gardaí will also await the results of the post mortem on Ms Bennett’s remains and the post mortem is due to be carried out by Acting State Pathologist, Dr Linda Mulligan this afternoon.

McDonagh said: “Sharon had been living in the Corofin area of Clare before moving into the Ennis area. Sharon had been living in the Clare area for a number of years.”

Tributes were being paid online today with one describing her as “an absolute angel” with another saying that she “was always so pleasant with a lovely smile”.

Supt McDonagh stated that Ms Bennett is the first woman to die in a violent situation in a long time in County Clare.

Figures from Women’s Aid show that she is the third woman to suffer a violent death to date this year. 

This compares to a total of four for 2020 and five for 2019.

Patrick Ballard of Ashford Court Hotel, Ennis has been charged with assault causing harm of Ms Bennett and is currently on remand in custody at Limerick prison.

Ballard is due to appear in Ennis court again via video link concerning the alleged assault next month.

When charged and cautioned by Det Garda Noelle Bergin on 29 January at Ennis Garda Station, Ballard replied: “I’m sorry for what happened.”

Det Bergin told the special court sitting in Ennis on 30 January that Sharon Bennett had remained unconscious in hospital since the alleged assault as a result of sustaining serious head injuries.

Det Bergin told the court that gardaí have received a number of independent eye-witness statements concerning the alleged assault as part of their investigation.

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She stated that some of the independent witness statements are from people who were in the area at the time.

The detective stated that CCTV footage from a number of premises in the vicinity of the alleged assault has also been collected.

Det Bergin stated that gardaí were also opposing bail concerning the seriousness of the charge before the court.

Det Bergin stated that Ballard is a drug user and an alcoholic.

Solicitor for Ballard, Tara Godfrey told the court that Ballard has been living under the care of the Simon Community at the Ashford Court hotel in Ennis.

Godfrey stated that Ballard suffers from significant psychiatric difficulties and has spent the last number of years more often than not homeless.

Godfrey told the court that Ballard tried to take his own life on two occasions in the two weeks prior to the alleged assault on Ms Bennett.

Godfrey stated that Ballard has also recently spent time at the acute psychiatric unit in Ennis.

In court, Godfrey described Ballard as “a most vulnerable person”.

After failing to secure bail in the district court, Ballard is scheduled to apply for bail in the High Court on Thursday, 11 February.

About the author:

Gordon Deegan

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