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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 10 December, 2019
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Man who launched vicious assault on girlfriend gets suspended sentence

The attack took place in 2003.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

A MAN WHO launched a vicious and sustained assault on his girlfriend which included banging her head off the floor and walls and kicking her in the head has been given a suspended sentence.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Karl Sutton (33) accused Tiffany Curtis of cheating on him before he began beating her, while their infant son slept in his Moses basket in the room next door.

Sutton, of Crumlin Park, Crumlin, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Ms Curtis at their flat in Rialto on 16 August, 2003. He moved to England after the attack but met with gardaí by appointment to be charged in 2015 when he returned to Ireland.

Garda Robert Duffy agreed with Olan Callanan BL, defending, that the couple had a “turbulent relationship”.

Counsel told the court the couple’s relationship continued after the assault and they had two further children together. Their baby daughter, their middle child, died of sudden infant death in 2010. They are no longer together.

Ms Curtis had written a letter for the court in which she stated that she now realised that Sutton was “a very good father and she doesn’t want to see him going to prison”.

Judge Melanie Greally noted that there had been “quite an extreme level of violence” during the assault which had occurred in the context of an intimate relationship. There was no victim impact evidence before the court.

She noted reports before the court indicated an ongoing need for Sutton to address his residual risk factors and that Sutton was prepared to comply with the probation service regime.

The judge said she would set a headline sentence of five years reflecting the level of violence.

Guilty plea

Judge Greally took into account the length of time since the offence, the lack of convictions before or since, as well as the level of shame and remorse from Sutton. She also gave him credit for his guilty plea and the high level of co-operation.

She noted in particular the time and commitment Sutton had put into the care of his children and the benefits they had derived.

Judge Greally imposed a four-year sentence which she suspended entirely on strict conditions, including that he undergo a two-year period of probation supervision and participate in an intervention program for perpetrators of intimate violence.

Garda Duffy told Seamus Clarke SC, prosecuting, that at one stage during the assault Ms Curtis blacked out. She was woken by Sutton slapping her in the face telling her that she wasn’t telling the truth. She remembered him dancing on her back and telling her he would hurt their baby if she continued to lie.

Towards the end of the assault, Ms Curtis asked to go to the toilet. Sutton dragged her by the hair to the bathroom and waited outside the door while she was in there. The woman tried to escape out the window but Sutton dragged her back in.

Garda Duffy said she managed to break free a short time later and went to a neighbour for help.

Attack

Gardaí were alerted and an ambulance was called for Ms Curtis. She was later treated in accident and emergency for swelling to her forehead and the left of her face. She had blurred vision and many bruises but had no broken bones. The court was handed in photographs of her injuries.

Garda Duffy said Sutton was caught climbing over railings by the officers who responded to the call. He was covered in blood and tried to hail a taxi but he didn’t get in. Gardaí gave chase and later arrested him.

Sutton admitted to gardaí in interview that he had overreacted and went mad but added “it wasn’t like I held her down and then beat the head off her”.

He claimed that cuts to her knuckles were from hitting the wall. He acknowledged that their baby was in his Moses basket during the assault and said he went to the child when Ms Curtis left.

Sutton told gardaí he was “deeply sorry for what happened. What I found out hurt me,” he said.

Garda Duffy said Sutton moved to England after the assault and Ms Curtis later joined him over there.

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Sonya McClean

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