*Ennis Court

A judge has ruled that a prisoner’s contact with his five year old son be limited, for now, to sending birthday cards and Christmas cards and associated presents.

The 49-year old man is currently on remand in custody awaiting trial at Ennis Circuit Court for the false imprisonment and assault causing harm of his partner and mother of the couple’s child at her home on September 3rd last.

During the incident it is alleged that the man tied the woman’s hands with cable ties behind her back in a downstairs bedroom and the couple’s child was upstairs during the course of what Sgt Louis Moloney said in court in September was a ‘horrifying ordeal” for the mother.

Now, during the granting of a Safety Order and limited access order at the Family Law Court, the man told Judge Alec Gabbett: “I can’t stress how much I regret what happened that night.”

Concerning access to his son, the man asked: “I don’t get to see my son?” and his solicitor, Shiofra Hassett said that her client is hoping for more contact than simply twice a year.

Ms Hassett said that her client was very involved in his son’s life and contact was not limited to weekends.

Judge Gabbett told the man: “Until the trial process is over, it would be in your interest to keep contact to a minimum.”

Judge Gabbett said that sending a birthday card and Christmas card “is a lovely thing to do”.

He said: “But communication within those cards and presents would absolutely be kept to a minimum. You can say to your son ‘Happy Christmas, love Dad’ – that type of thing but nothing else is to be transmitted.”

Judge Gabbett said that he was making the preliminary access order now and in a year’s time, “it would be appropriate to bring an access application but now it is probably not”.

Judge Gabbett made the access order as he approved a five year Safety Order for the alleged injured party in the case against the man. The alleged injured party was also in court for the granting of the Safety Order.

Solicitor for the woman, William Cahir said that his client was opposed to any access to the man of their son.

Ms Hassett said that her client was not opposing the Safety Order application. The man has been refused bail in the district court and the High Court ahead of his case coming before Ennis Circuit Court later this year.

Judge Gabbett said that the cards and presents are not to be sent directly from prison and be instead sent through a third party.

Mr Cahir said that the son received sketches from his father at Christmas and his client viewed the material as “threatening and intimidatory”.

Mr Cahir handed the sketches into court and Judge Gabbett remarked: “He is quite the artist isn’t he? The man is using his time in prison well.”

The man said that he does the sketches as part of therapy while in prison. Ms Hassett said that her client didn’t send the sketches to his son.

She said that her client sent the sketches to a family relative and it was another relative who forwarded the sketches to the man’s son as part of a Christmas present.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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