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Mother beaten with metal table leg feared her ‘demented’ son was going to kill her

The defendant was located sitting on the step at the back door complaining that he had injured his ankle

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The mother of a Craigavon man who beat her over the head with a metal table leg says she feared her “demented” son was going to kill her.

Dale Terry Ruddell, originally with an address of Parkmore, repeatedly punched his mother to her face before continuing his prolonged and violent assault on the street and concluding the horrifying attack in a neighbour’s home before police finally arrived.

On Thursday, June 1, last year, at around 4pm, the 28-year-old came home and began demanding his mother’s phone.

Whenever she refused he made threats to cut her throat, to stab her in her sleep, and to smash her face in.

He then grabbed the glass table in the living room and smashed it on the floor. He continued to demand her phone and lifted the metal leg from the broken table and beat her with it.

His mother then fell onto the sofa where he jumped on top of her and punched her repeatedly to the face. She managed to escape out of the house but Ruddell followed her into the street and grabbed her, pulling her to the ground.

A neighbour challenged him which allowed the victim an opportunity to flee into her friend’s house nearby.

Ruddell threatened that if she phoned police she would receive worse when he got out of prison. He then followed her into the property and punched her at full force repeatedly to the face in the kitchen, causing her to fall and hit her head off the ground.

Her nose exploded causing blood to drip over her face and on to the floor.

The occupants of that address managed to force Ruddell out the back door and locked it.

When police arrived they spoke to Ruddell’s mother inside and received a verbal complaint, noting swelling around her face and that her nose was bleeding.

The defendant was located sitting on the step at the back door complaining that he had injured his ankle.

When he was placed under arrest and taken to the waiting police car he continued to shout obscenities towards his mother.

The defendant was interviewed the following afternoon with a solicitor present. He presented a pre-prepared statement denying the offences claiming the door had hit his mother in the face accidentally causing her injuries.

He said the coffee table was damaged accidentally when he tripped over it and he then proceeded to answer no comment to most questions except for denying any deliberate assault on his mother, or making threats to her, claiming that she and the other witnesses who provided statements were all drunk at the time.

In her statement to police, Ruddell’s mother said she was “scared and terrified” and that she believed her son was going to kill her. She stated: “Dale appeared demented, not all there; I had never seen Dale this bad and it terrified me.”

Prosecutor Joseph Murphy also referenced Ruddell’s record, drawing attention to two assaults committed on October 16, 2022, whereby Ruddell headbutted and punched her in her home before assaulting her female friend who tried to intervene.

Defence barrister, David McKeown, said his client was “a man who has had great difficulties throughout his life” and that he has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction issues since he was 18.

He described his criminal record as a “series of of ever increasingly serious offences” and as such he “was almost on the verge of a life sentence by instalments”.

Mr McKeown alluded to the tragic passing of his father as a salutary lesson.

He said: “First of all, he’s had the pain and suffering of losing his father, but he also had the pain and suffering – the ignominy – of not being able to be with his father in his dying days. That seems to have been a wake up call and he has got his head down in prison, and taken on board support available to him.”

The barrister said Ruddell has realised the position he has gotten himself in and that is is “untenable”, stating he “eventually hopes to regain full contact with his children [but] he’ll have to do a considerable amount of work to achieve that”.

“He’s a man who, respectively I say, is turning the corner and is remorseful for his actions….I think he’s just fed up with the position he is in and he’s willing to change.”

His Honour Patrick Lynch KC, in passing sentence on the charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, criminal damage, threats to kill, and threatening or abusive behaviour, said: “Clearly there are problems in his childhood and having difficulties with the victim in this case from a very early stage.

“However, it is a domestic violence case and the parent is entitled to assume that they will not be endangered by their offspring, as unfortunately is the case here. And there’s a history of it, unfortunately so far as she is concerned.”

Judge Lynch read out am extensive record before handing down a sentence of just shy of three years – 16 months of which will be spent behind bars with 18 months on licence.

A three-year restraining order was also put in place.

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