A man who attacked his partner in front of her children in a row over the air conditioning in their hotel room has been given a two-year suspended sentence.
Matthew Telford (32) had checked into the Carlton Hotel in Tyrellstown, Co Dublin, with his then partner that evening. They were there with a number of other couples and returned to their hotel room after dinner, where the woman’s 11-year-old son had turned on the air conditioning in the room. Her four-year-old son was also staying with them.
Det Garda John Hayes told Edward Doocey BL, prosecuting, that Telford asked the boy to turn off the air conditioning and “an argument broke out”.
Telford squeezed the woman’s face and jaw before he threw her onto the bed. He grabbed her by the hair and threw her onto the floor where he continued to slap and kick at her legs.
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Det Garda Hayes said during the attack the woman tripped and extended her left arm to break her fall. She fell on her arm and badly broke her wrist. The injury later required surgery to insert steel wires into her wrist.
Telford, of Ardmeen Green, Downpatrick, Co Down, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at the hotel on August 13th, 2019. He has no previous convictions.
During the assault the woman’s older son ran down to the hotel reception to get help from the staff.
When they came back to the room they found the woman was visibly injured, with redness to her face and neck. She was holding her left arm and her younger child was in the room with her.
Telford left the hotel then but returned later. The woman made a statement to gardaí a number of weeks later. Gardaí had to make a request of the Police Service of Northern Ireland to speak to Telford, as he was resident in Co Down.
He agreed to meet gardaí and made admissions regarding the attack.
Mr Doocey told the court it was accepted by the State that the woman broke her wrist when she fell after she tripped over something, and Telford’s plea to assault causing harm is “on the basis of recklessness”.
A victim impact statement was handed into court, but not read out.
Det Garda Hayes agreed with Rebecca Smith BL, defending, that Telford is now living with his mother and had support in court. He had written a letter of apology to the woman.
He had €4,000 in court to offer her as compensation for loss of earnings because of the injury to her wrist. Ms Smith said alcohol “played a factor” in the assault, but accepted this was no excuse for her client’s behaviour on the night.
She said Telford was genuinely remorseful and will regret his actions “for the rest of his life”. Ms Smith asked the court to give “him a chance”, having taken into account his lack of previous convictions, plea of guilty and remorse.
Judge Martin Nolan said Telford “became hostile and aggressive” on the night and attacked the woman.
He noted that the injury to her wrist will have a long-term impact on her, but accepted that Telford did not mean to injure her in this manner.
“It was an unprovoked, shameful and cowardly attack,” Judge Nolan said, before he accepted Telford had a good work record and was probably unlikely to reoffend to this degree in future.
In this case, he said, he did not believe Telford deserved an immediate custodial sentence.
Judge Nolan sentenced Telford to two years in prison, which he suspended in full on condition that he hand over €4,000 to the woman, along with a further €5,000 in two years. He said if she did not want to accept the money it could be passed on to a charity local to Telford.