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Probation for 76-year-old farm worker who slapped his wife to ‘calm her down’

Armagh Magistrates Court

A 76-year-old farm worker from Armagh has been given twelve months probation for slapping his wife in the face.

The man, from Lisanally Gardens, appeared before Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry Courthouse on Tuesday.

He was charged with one count of common assault against his wife, who is 84-years-old.

The court heard that on March 31 of this year, police were tasked to a report of an ongoing domestic incident in Armagh.

The injured party stated that she had been engaged in a “verbal argument” with her husband and that he had “slapped her on the left side of the face with his right hand” and “no visible injury was caused.”

She stated that she hit him back in self defence. The defendant was arrested and cautioned for the offence of common assault.

The defendant’s defence solicitor, Oisin Toner, said that it is “always sad when a man of this vintage is asked to appear before the court.”

He described the defendant as a “very industrious man”, who has “played a very positive societal role” and who still continues to work two jobs at 76. He added that the defendant has been married to the victim for 40 years, and made full admissions to the offence whilst in custody.

“He’s back living with the victim and he’s extremely apologetic and remorseful.

“He has expressed remorse and there’s been no further repetition of any type of behaviour of this type of nature, since the incident on the 31st of March.

“He has desisted from alcohol, which clearly impacted on the situation in this respect”, he said.

District Judge Anne Marshall, noted that the pre-sentence report said that both parties had been drinking alcohol and the defendant slapped his wife to “calm her down.”

She commented: “I’m not sure that slapping anybody in the face has ever had that consequence, that it results in them calming down.”

Appearing via videolink from his solicitor’s office, the defendant consented to undergoing probation.

Judge Marshall added: “I think that there’s probably some work probation can do with them and given his age and his circumstances, and he’s now reconciled with the victim, it may not be appropriate for group work to be done with them.

“Certainly, there needs to be some work done with them in relation to respectful relationships.”

To this end, Judge Marshall imposed a probation order for a period of twelve months, with a condition being that a program would be undertaken designed to address domestic abuse.

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