Man, 33, jailed for kidnapping young daughter and assaulting adult niece – The Irish Times

A man who kidnapped his young daughter and set off a nationwide child safety alert has been sentenced to 4½ years in prison.

The 33-year-old previously pleaded guilty to intentionally taking his two-year-old from a Co Mayo health center on October 12, 2021. He cannot be named to protect his daughter’s identity.

He later pleaded guilty in a Mayo Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting his two nieces and assaulting a Garda on December 1, 2021.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the man broke into his sister’s Co Mayo home in December 2021 to try to take his child, who she was caring for at the time. During this incident, he assaulted two of his nieces, aged 19 and 23.

At the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Judge Martin Nolan said the man behaved “disgracefully”. He accepted that the man had expressed remorse and that drinking was causing him problems, but said the second batch of offenses made the whole situation worse.

“The kidnapping was bad enough, but when you showed up at your sister’s house, this court lost all sympathy for you,” Judge Nolan said.

Garda Derek Sweeney told prosecutors Derek Cooney BL that the man had gone to the UK a few years earlier where he had met a woman and they had a daughter. They visited Mayo from the UK in mid-2021 to attend a family birthday party.

Mr Cooney said both parents were “heavily involved in substance abuse” at the time and were “completely out there” at that party.

About a week later, the toddler was taken to a local doctor who, the court heard, contacted Tusla and raised concerns about the girl’s well-being. After a formal complaint, a restraining order was issued, placing her in the care of a relative.

Both parents were granted access from time to time to visit their daughter at a specific location. On a scheduled visit to the health center, the father came alone to see his daughter and brought food and drinks for her.

The court heard that when the little girl arrived with her guardian, the man picked up his daughter, said “I’m really sorry” to the relative and carried the child to a waiting car. The child’s mother was driving the car and pulled away at a dangerous speed, the attorney said.

A nationwide Child Rescue Alert was activated and received widespread media coverage, prompting Gardaí to trace the man’s whereabouts via his phone to a hotel on Camden Street, Dublin. A receptionist working at Keaven’s Port Hotel came across the alert and identified the child with two adults who had checked in.

Garda Sweeney agreed with Dean Kelly SC and defended that hotel staff said the child was not distressed at all.

Gardaí arrived at the hotel, removed the child and arrested her parents, who were questioned several times and took full shots. The court heard the man was being polite, telling Gardaí, “I just wanted to spend time with my daughter.”

The court heard the mother, a British citizen, pleaded guilty to the kidnapping but did not appear for her sentence and is now living in London. Mr Cooney said the man tried again to abduct the child from a home in Mayo a few weeks after the kidnapping.

Garda Sinead Chaney told prosecutors Patrick Reynolds BL that the man’s sister was looking after his child on December 1, 2021 when there was a bang at the front door. When one of the residents opened the door, no one was there, but the family then heard a knock on the rear windows.

The family barricaded themselves in various bedrooms before the man kicked in the back door and entered the home. He yelled and screamed, threatened to burn down the house and said he just wanted to see his daughter.

His nieces met him on the landing and he attacked them both, hitting one with his head and trying to choke her while punching the second girl in the face. The family managed to force him out of the house and called Gardaí.

You could later hear him “smashing into” his sister’s car, Garda Chaney said. Gardaí later gave chase and had to arrest the man with batons and pepper spray to arrest him.

On the way to Garda train station, the man apparently had a seizure. Gardaí stopped the vehicle and when they opened the door, the man spat blood on one of them.

He made no comment during his interview with Gardaí. There were no medical reports in court regarding the injuries suffered by the man’s nieces, nor reports of the effects on the victims.

Brian Storan BL, defending himself, said the defendant deeply regrets his behavior and knows there is no justification for it.

Judge Nolan told the defendant it was his turn to “fix fences” with his daughter, sister and nieces. Man, 33, jailed for kidnapping young daughter and assaulting adult niece – The Irish Times

Dais Johnston

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