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Man refused bail as court hears woman left with 'inhumane injuries' following assault

Simone Lee remains in a serious condition in hospital following the assault.

Image: Shutterstock/Stephen Barnes

Updated May 12th 2021, 6:59 PM

A WOMAN SUSTAINED “inhumane injuries” and is “incredibly lucky to be alive” after she was assaulted, had acid thrown in her eyes, boiling water poured on her, and was falsely imprisoned in her home, between last Monday and Tuesday, a Detective Garda told a court this evening.

Simone Lee, 41, was also beaten about the head with glass bottles, and left for dead in a fire at her home, at Fairview Crescent, Garryowen, gardaí alleged.

Christopher Stokes, 37, with an address at Sarsfield Avenue, Garryowen, appeared before Limerick District Court today, charged with one count of threatening to kill Lee, assault causing her harm, and false imprisonment.

The charges, which Stokes made no reply to when cautioned by gardaí, are alleged to have occurred in May.

Detective Garda Aled Harkin, Henry Street Garda Station, objected to bail and told the court he believed Stokes would not adhere to any bail conditions, and that he would pursue Ms Lee, intimidate her, and try to “finish what he set out to do”.

Detective Harkin said Ms Lee has alleged that during a visit to her home on Monday last Stokes “became agitated” and said he wanted to go to Charleville in north Cork to rob goods from a local shopping centre so he could get cash.

Ms Lee, who remains in a serious condition at University Hospital Limerick, had been expecting an elderly friend, Tim Fehin, 71, from Charleville, to come to her home for dinner that night.

It’s alleged Stokes threatened to shoot Fehin if he did not take the accused to Charleville after he had arrived at the house.

It’s alleged Stokes punched Ms Lee in her face a number of times, kneed her into her body and kicked her while she lay on the ground.

Gardaí said Fehin told them he was “terrified” and so he drove Stokes to Charleville and that Stokes sat in the rear left passenger seat, sitting directly behind Ms Lee who sat in the left front passenger seat.

Throughout the journey Stokes allegedly assaulted, choked, and struck Ms Lee numerous times with a glass bottle, Detective Harkin told the court.

Upon returning to Ms Lee’s house Stokes “barricaded the front door and pushed Ms Lee to the ground and “subjected her to numerous physical assaults”, Det Gda Harkin said.

It’s alleged Stokes punched Ms Lee several times in the face and poured boiling water on her back, causing her to go unconscious.

Detective Harkin told the court it is alleged Stokes also poured “ammonia acid in her face three times”.

He said gardai found a bottle of ammonia acid in the house after.

He alleged Stokes refused to allow Ms Lee go to the toilet and she “soiled herself”.

He further alleged Stokes “placed a black plastic bag over Ms Lee’s head and tried to suffocate her”.

He alleged that Stokes told Fehin he was hoping to “chop up” Ms Lee and “bury her” on lands in Charleville owned by Fehin.

The court heard Fehin escaped from the house and left the area in his car before he telephoned gardaí.

Detective Harkin said Fehin made a telephone call to gardaí stating there was noise coming from Ms Lee’s house, and the phone line went dead.

When gardai arrived at Ms Lee’s home they could not gain entry, and left the area.

Detective Harkin alleged Ms Lee awoke later on “to find cardboard boxes on top of her and the apartment on fire, with flames everywhere”.

Ms Lee was rescued by local firefighters and taken by ambulance to hospital and Mr Stokes, who was found by firefighters inside the house, was arrested by gardai at the scene.

Detective Harkin said it was his belief that Stokes started the fire.

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He said Ms Lee sustained “burns to her back, lips, and windpipe” and she sustained “an internal bleed on her brain”.

He said an “extreme violence” was perpetrated on Ms Lee, including “the use of boiling water, and acid, and glass bottles”.

He said during interviews with gardaí Stokes denied the claims made against him by Ms Lee and Mr Fehin and that “her claimed her horrific injuries were self inflicted”.

Detective Harkin said gardaí refute this “given the severe nature of the injuries”.

The accused’s solicitor, Sarah Ryan, said Stokes has denied causing Ms Lee’s injuries and that he claimed “there was drug use in the apartment throughout the day”.

Stokes is also charged with threatening to kill Mr Fehin, and with falsely imprisoning him in Ms Lee’s home on 11 May.

Judge Patricia Harney said she was refusing bail in light of “the nature and seriousness of the charges”.

She said she was “satisfied, given the alleged horrendous assault” that witnesses may be “interfered with”.

She said this “would represent a serious threat of danger to any person should he be released on bail”.

She said the charges against Stokes were of the “upmost gravity” and she remanded him to Limerick Prison to re-appear before Limerick District Court again via video link, on 18 May.

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