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Heartbroken father: 'She was punched and struck with beer cans - and he got just 10 years'

Sara Staunton, a mother of two children, was killed by her boyfriend in 2013.

Mayo Abbey, Claremorris
Mayo Abbey, Claremorris
Image: RTE screengrab

Updated at 16.27

PAT STAUNTON, father of Sara Staunton who was killed by her boyfriend in a drink fuelled row, spoke to RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke about his daughter.

Earlier this week, former boxer Ray Gralton was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder.

In December 2013, Gralton punched and struck Sarah with beer cans, resulting in her death.

The 28-year-old was a mother of two children.

Her father said that Sarah was a “very troubled girl” who had a drink problem since her early teens.

When she was 13 he was awoken one night by a call to say that she was in hospital having her stomach pumped.

“I’m not ashamed to say she had problem. It runs in my family – my mum and dad had a drink problem,” he explained

When things didn’t work out with her first partner she took to the drink badly, said Pat, who said when she was sober she was fine.

“She would be the nicest person you could ever meet.”

Prison sentence

Speaking about the prison sentence Gralton received, he said it seemed unjust. He explained that he was one of the first people to take a case against the Christian Brothers.

“The irony is, I got 12 years in prison for doing nothing, he got ten years for killing my daughter and I don’t get that. And he could be out in 5 and half, that is what I have been told.”

Pat said his daughter had been in a relationship with Gralton for about a year. He said he had tried to get her away from him when it became clear he was being abusive.

On one occasion she called her father to come pick her up.

“She had two black eyes and bits of her hair were mising. I wanted to do some damage to him, but she begged me not to.”

He said he knew of at least five other occassions where Sarah was badly beaten by her boyfriend.

“I begged her,” he said, stating that he took his daughter to Galway to get her away from him.

“She had a lump  about three inches out of her forehead.”

Head through the TV 

Pat said Sarah loved her television. “Her telly went everywhere with her. He put her head through the telly.”

“She said it was her fault. ‘I started it’ she told me. I said: ‘But Sarah, look at you’.”

“I said to her: ‘Sarah, babes, next time he hits you he is gong to kill you, love. Because he won’t be able to stop.”

Over three weeks later that’s what happened, said Pat.

“I remember the day she died, Friday 13 December. I called down to her and took her out for breakfast. I didn’t want anything to do with this lad, but she asked could he come for breakfast.”

She said she wouldn’t go without him, he explained.

“I wanted to talk to her about her life,” he said.

He said she told him she wanted to get off the drink and drugs.

“‘I want to get myself clean and get my kids back’ she told me. She was so happy,” said Pat.

Pat said his heart went out to Gralton’s mother who was in court for the sentencing. However, he said that she will one day see her son again, but he will never see his daughter.

Sara’s last poem

He said Sarah was a talented singer and writer, and emotionally recounted the last poem she had written.

 Let them strip away the green leaves that support my lifeLet them cut me down and imprison me in glassOh yes, and let them further prune and arrange meBut I will exceed their intentions for they have only brought forth the splendor of my bloomOh and when I shed my petals, my one last gift, I will have left my impressions, my freedom achieved

While they are left to wonder at all the beauty they have mistreated.

Read: ‘You don’t think things like this can happen to you’: Parents of April Jones open up about daughter’s murder>

Read: Brian O’Donnell loses appeal and ordered to leave Killiney mansion>

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