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Bessbrook joiner jailed for litany of horrifying abuse against partner

Newry courthouse police

An abusive and coercive controlling, manipulative bully who strangled, suffocated, punched and kicked his partner in a shocking litany of domestic abuse, including when she was pregnant, was today (Wednesday) handed a 62 month sentence.

In addition to the sentence, with half to be spent in jail and half on licence, 25-year-old Michael Maguire was also handed a ten year restraining order barring the Co. Armagh joiner from contacting his victim.

Jailing the “coercive and manipulative” thug at Newry Crown Court where the victim watched proceedings online, Judge Gordon Kerr KC told Maguire he had “absolutely no doubt that the abuse by you of her will affect her life and future for many many years to come.”

“There’s a hopeful signs that she has expressed a form of relief that she has escaped from your coercive control and violent behaviour,” said the judge, “and it is to be hoped that she can build on that.”

Maguire, from Maytown Terrace in Bessbrook, had entered guilty pleas to a total of 25 charges including 14 counts of common assault, five of making threats to kill, three of inflicting actual bodily harm and single charges if threats to damage property, criminal damage and false imprisonment, all committed over a time span between 1 January 2019 and 31 August 2020.

As prosecuting KC Neil Connor summarised: “Throughout their relationship the defendant consistently manipulated and undermined the confidence of the complainant, playing upon her post-partum sensitivities and fears of being deemed an unfit mother.

“He criticised her housekeeping, her intellect, her looks, pretty much all aspects of her life. He threatened that if she ever told anyone what he did to her he would suffocate her or break her legs. He also threatened to torture her, kill her and the baby by burning down the house if she ever left him. He repeatedly told her he wouldn’t go to jail for what he did  to her and that ‘people like him went to the Bluestone” [mental health unit] instead.”

The first assault on the indictment came within a few weeks of the couple moving in together when Maguire came home and “assaulted her while she was lying in bed, accusing her of being sexually involved with another male”.

“He hit and punched her, dragged her from her bed by the hair and choked her causing bruising and blood vessel damage to her neck area,” said the barrister, adding that he “dragged her downstairs and continued to assault her in the kitchen, banging her head off the cupboards.”

A few days after that, Maguire “punched her around ten times” on her upper legs during an argument, again leaving her bruised and the court heard that even after the victim became pregnant, the shocking assaults did not stop.

“She recounted numerous incidents of assault when the defendant would kick, punch out at her, pull her hair, and stand on her toes,” said Mr Connor, describing that “on one occasion he climbed onto the bed and threatened to suffocate her, straddling her whilst punching her and holding one hand around her throat.”

“On another date he beat her on her bare bottom with a one-metre-long vacuum cleaner tube, hitting her across her upper thighs and buttocks causing red marks and cuts,” the court heard.

Sadly, Maguire’s aggression and violence was not solely directed at his suffering partner.

At one stage in October 2019, a friend if the victim called at her home at a time when Maguire was at work but the thug came home unexpectedly, kicking and hanging on the door, threatening to “slice the woman’s throat,” labelling her a “slut and a whore” and threatening to cut her brakes.

Maguire’s partner tried to leave but he physically “dragged her back by the hair” and threatened to kill her father.

Four weeks after the baby was born in early 2020, Maguire “assaulted her by violently squeezing her C-Section wound causing it to open and weep.”

In April 2020 the couple moved to a new house and with Maguire “promising to turn over a new leaf,” they had hoped for a new start but within “a matter of days,” she found herself bullied and repeatedly assaulted again.

Mr Connor recounted how during the numerous incidents Maguire “kneed her as many as 10 times in the vagina,” dislocated her finger, smashed her phone, tripped her up and banged her head on the tile floor, was “laughing” as he assaulted her on the bed, holding a pillow over her face and beating her saying; “I will f**** kill you, do you want to bet? I am going to suffocate you.”

In another shocking and horrifying incident, this time on the victim’s 21st birthday, Maguire said he had paid for her nails, hair and lashes to be done so “he owned them…he could cut her hair if he wanted to or pull her eyelashes out.”

“He told her he wished she was ‘drowned at birth’ and wished he was present at her birth so he could have been the one who drowned her,” said the senior barrister.

Despite repeated calls to the police by the victim’s parents, she refused to make any statement against her bullying violent partner until mid way through 2020, recording hours of video interviews where she recounted the disturbing pattern of violence.

Maguire was arrested but he denied any wrongdoing during police interviews, including when photographic and video evidence of his partner’s injuries were put to him.

Ultimately he did confess his guilt in the end and summarising the case during his sentencing remarks, Judge Kerr said that was just one of a handful of mitigating features in a case where there was multiple aggravating features including repeated assaults of a vulnerable victim in her own home where she was “entitled to feel safe” and at times when a child was in that home.

He said it was also a concerning factor that strangulation and choking formed part of some of the assaults given the guidance that such actions “are considered to be a red flag.”

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