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File photo of Mark Doyle. irishphotodesk.ie
Mark Doyle

Former garda who assaulted ex-wife and stepsons over 12-year period jailed for six years

Mark Doyle admitted five counts of assault causing harm to Meav Doyle and two counts of assaulting two of her sons on dates between 2007 and 2019.

LAST UPDATE | 15 Mar

A FORMER GARDA who put his ex-wife and stepsons through “horror after horror” over a 12-year period has been jailed for six years.

Mark Doyle (38) with a previous address at Corbally Paddocks, Newbridge, Co Kildare, admitted five counts of assault causing harm to Meav Doyle and two counts of assaulting two of her sons causing them harm on dates between September 2007 and August 2019.

Mark Doyle, who had been stationed at Ronanstown, Blanchardstown and Cabra, was suspended by An Garda Síochána and later resigned from the force before pleading guilty on the day of his scheduled trial last October.

He was a member of the Irish Defence Forces between 2002 and 2009 and a garda between 2009 and 2023.

Reading her victim impact statement in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court this week, Meav McLoughlin-Doyle said her ex-husband took herself and her children through “horror after horror” during the 12 years they were together.

She described a relationship marked by control, violence, coercion and abuse during which she and her children lived in “constant terror and fear”.

“He was a respected member of the community but a monster in our home. He used his position to shake off any suspicion,” she said.

Sentencing Doyle today, Judge Martin Nolan said Doyle engaged in “reprehensible” behaviour which involved a “pattern of violence” against his partner and her two sons.

“For reasons known only to Mr Doyle, he couldn’t control his temper and blamed his wife for his own bad behaviour,” the judge said.

The judge said it was “noteworthy” that Doyle was a former member of the defence forces and a member of An Garda Siochana.

He noted the offending took place in front of children at times.

“It was an oppressive house to live in,” the judge said. “Meav Doyle bears the scars of all of this.”

He handed down a global sentence of six years, backdated from yesterday when Doyle went into custody.

The court heard that Doyle once showed up to a parent teacher meeting in his garda car and full uniform, after the school had expressed concerns over a disclosure by a child.

“Home is supposed to be a place of support and safety, but it was the opposite. Our home was a place of fear, humiliation, violence and walking on eggshells,” Ms McLoughlin-Doyle said in her impact statement.

Ms McLoughlin-Doyle said that she could never have imagined the “tsunami of issues” and constant fight to survive that she and her children had endured as fallout of the abuse.

“The trauma will last a lifetime,” she said, adding that the abuse had turned her from a confident, outgoing, ambitious woman into a shell of herself, suffering from anxiety, panic attacks and depression.

Her children suffer from numerous mental health difficulties including anxiety, self-harm ideation, and anger issues, the court heard.

She concluded her victim impact statement with a powerful description of domestic violence as a “targeted reign of terror”.

“Domestic violence is the erosion of confidence and self-worth. Domestic violence is isolation from family, friends and the world.

“Domestic violence is financial abuse. Domestic violence is constant carnage wreaked to the family home.

“Domestic violence is constantly second-guessing yourself. Domestic violence is the fear of violence all the time and of violence against children.

“Domestic violence is not knowing what will set the offender off, and when you think you have worked it out, it changes on a whim.

“Domestic violence is fear of shame. Domestic violence is fear of having nowhere to go, while being judged for staying. Domestic violence is shame of letting it get that far.”

Detective Inspector Adrian Kinsella from the Garda National Protection Bureau gave evidence of the assaults to Dean Kelly SC, prosecuting.

The court heard that Mark Doyle met his ex-wife in 2007 and they married in 2012.

She had two children from her previous relationship and went on to have two further children with Doyle.

Doyle would pick on her over issues like money, weight gain, or how things were done in the house and would react violently and hit her.

Mark Doyle twice perforated his wife’s eardrum by punching her to the head in front of her children, blaming her for the assault: “You see what you’ve made me do.”

On one occasion, he grabbed her throat with both hands and tried to choke her, knocking her to the floor while she screamed.

When the woman was five or six months pregnant with one of their children, Mark Doyle threw a chair at her, cutting her on the thigh and then saying it was “her fault” that she made him do it.

Another time he grabbed her by the hair “like a dog” and pulled her around while his children shouted at him to stop.

During other assaults, he kicked his wife repeatedly while wearing boots and whipped her in the head with his jacket, cutting her with the zip.

Ms McLoughlin Doyle required medical treatment on numerous occasions.

On one occasion she lied to doctors and said her injuries were caused when she had “fallen over the dog”.

Mark Doyle assaulted one of his stepsons with an airsoft gun, shooting him in the backside and laughing before removing the pellet with tweezers.

This son recalls staying in his room a lot over the years and “tuning out” when the atmosphere changed in the house.

His stepfather would call him names like “stupid”, “fat cunt”, “retard” and “dope”, he told gardaí.

Mark Doyle also assaulted his other stepson on several occasions, punching him to the stomach, banging his head on the table, pulling him out of bed by the hair and stamping on him causing cuts to his face, the court heard.

Ms McLoughlin-Doyle filed a complaint to gardaí in the spring of 2020.

Mark Doyle met gardaí by appointment in December 2020 and denied the allegations against him, saying “everything had been twisted.”

“I have been experiencing abuse for years and controlling behaviour,” he told gardaí, alleging that one of his stepsons had drunkenly attacked him.

He has no previous convictions.

Inspector Kinsella agreed with Garnet Orange SC, defending, that Doyle indicated his intention to plead guilty about three months before his actual plea.

The inspector further agreed that Doyle grew up in an environment of ongoing violence in the family and that his father had alcohol addiction.

Mr Orange said Doyle had offered to apologise to his ex-wife but that this was rejected.

The court heard that Doyle has not seen his children since 2021 and now accepts his guilt and the wrong that he did to his ex-wife and children.

A psychological report submitted to the court said Doyle has expressed notable remorse, shame, embarrassment, and regret and that he understands the traumatic effect of his behaviour.

Doyle is now in a relationship with another woman who wrote a reference for him, the court heard.

He was assessed as being at low risk of reoffending and described as “psychologically resilient with satisfactory self-esteem”.

Counsel said Doyle has taken responsibility for his offending behaviour and does not seek to minimise it, but rather wants to do “whatever it takes” to set matters right.

The court heard that the loss of his job in the guards weighs heavily on Doyle, who is now doing some part-time building work instead.

Doyle is effectively supported by his partner, counsel said.

Mr Orange said there has been “considerable publicity” about the case and that prison can be “particularly difficult” for former members of An Garda Síochána.

 

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Author
Jessica Magee and Sonya McLean