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*Patrick Ballard. 

THE ENNIS man who murdered mother of two, Sharon Bennett (29) was today sentenced for assaulting a woman in her own bedroom late at night one month prior to Ms Bennett’s murder.

At Ennis District Court, Judge Mary Larkin imposed a nine month prison term on Patrick Ballard (35) formerly of Ashford Court Hotel, Ennis for the assault on the woman at her Ennis home two days prior to Christmas Day in December 2020.

Imposing the prison term on Mr Ballard for the December 23rd assault, Judge Larkin said that “the fact that this woman was attacked in her bedroom when he kicked down the door must have been an extraordinarily frightening event”.

Judge Larkin said, “It wasn’t just a once-off event – Mr Ballard has 140 previous convictions and that has to be deemed quite significant in the context of offending behaviour”.

After reading the woman’s victim impact statement, Judge Larkin said that she has to consider the victims in these cases “and consider how society has been endangered by Mr Ballard’s conduct”.

Judge Larkin said that she accepted that Mr Ballard “has had an extraordinarily difficult life and has suffered from mental health difficulties”.

Earlier this month, Mr Ballard received a life sentence at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin after he pleaded guilty two days into the trial for the murder of his former partner, Sharon Bennett on January 28th 2021 at the Market Area in Ennis.

Mr Ballard kicked and stamped on Ms Bennett in a public toilet in the Market Area and Ms Bennett died in hospital in Limerick two weeks later on February 10th, 2021, from her injuries.

Mr Ballard has been in prison since January 2021 and appeared via video link from Limerick prison today and spoke only to confirm his name and that he could see and hear the court.

Judge Larkin also imposed a six month prison term for Mr Ballard carrying out criminal damage at the Ennis home on December 23rd 2020 and took a second criminal damage offence into consideration.

Mr Ballard won’t serve any additional time in prison as the prison terms were not made consecutive to the life sentence that he is serving for Ms Bennett’s murder.

Solicitor for Mr Ballard, Tara Godfrey told the court that Mr Ballard “had made significant attempts to take his own life between 25th of November 2020 and 28th of January 2021”.

Ms Godfrey said, “During Covid access to psychiatric services was very difficult. The homeless services that were looking after Mr Ballard could only action a telephone call with a psychiatric nurse for 45 minutes after one incident where he tried to take his own life”.

Ms Godfrey said, “Patrick Ballard was in very poor circumstances and he had very little psychiatric support. He deeply regrets his actions on December 23rd 2020 in the course of these offences and the other offences that he has committed”.

Ms Godfrey handed into court a psychiatric and probation report stating that “this is a particularly sad case”.

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