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claire byrne live

'We got in a priest to bless her': Sisters of Sonya Lee recall aftermath of horrific attack

Lee’s former partner kicked and stamped on her head 17 times in an unprovoked attacked in March 2018.

THE FAMILY OF Sonya Lee, who was left brain damaged after her former partner kicked and stamped on her head 17 times, have spoken of her recovery in hospital after the devastating attack in March 2018. 

Appearing on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live, Sonya said she was “doing alright” as she was joined by two of her sisters, Aisling and Natalie. 

Her former boyfriend Lance Dempsey was sentenced to 11 years in prison last week for attacking her in Cavan town two years ago. 

“That is an image I will never get out of my head, we were told she had only one hour to live and we got in a priest to bless her,” her sister Natalie said, recalling her first visit to Sonya in hospital after the attack. 

“But thank god she pulled through,” she said. 

Having suffered bleeding on the brain and broken bones in her face, it was discovered that Sonya was 15 weeks pregnant while she was recovering in hospital. 

“The doctor said Sonya had some good news. She was 15 weeks’ pregnant. I looked over and she had a big smile on her face,” said her sister Aisling, recalling a visit to Sonya in Dublin’s Mater Hospital. 

Aisling, who now cares for Sonya at her home, said: “It’s very tough at times, very, very tough, looking after Sonya, looking after her two babies and I have two little kids, it is a struggle.”

The sisters said that Sonya had been “brainwashed” by Dempsey and warned other women who were being abused by partners that it was “never too late to get out of those situations”.

Said Aisling: “Lance was telling Sonya things like ‘you will never meet another man, no-one will ever love you like I will.’ He also accused her of cheating on him - this was not true.

“He would also order her not to wear revealing clothes.”

Dempsey pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm in the unprovoked attacked in March 2018. 

Despite the extent of her injuries, Sonya went on to give birth to a healthy baby boy. 

Speaking last night, Emma Murphy from SAFE Ireland said domestic abuse has increased during Covid-19 and said calls to helplines have “been through the roof”. 

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