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Neighbour who intervened in domestic incident found man strangling wife, court told

“Had it not been for the actions of the neighbour, police are of the opinion we could have been dealing with something worse.”

Court lady justice

A forty-nine-year old man has been remanded in custody accused of strangling his wife during an alleged incident and refused to stop when a neighbour intervened.

Silivina Sousa of Feeney’s Lane, Dungannon is charged with unlawfully and maliciously causing grievous bodily harm to the woman on 23 December.

A police officer told a special sitting of Dungannon Magistrates Court the charge could be connected.

He explained that in the afternoon in question, police received a report of a female screaming inside Sousa’s home.

A neighbour described hearing the distressed female and attempted to enter the house which at first she was unable to do, before a child then opened the door.

Once inside she observed Sousa had “pinned his wife into a position under the stairs.”

The female was wearing a dressing gown which was “twisted in a way it was against her neck and Sousa’s hands were also around her throat.”

The neighbour asked him to let go but he refused until police arrived a very short time later.

Police spoke with the female who was “extremely distressed and appeared delirious, drifting in and out of consciousness.”

Her English was not good but she managed to mime a strangulation motion to officers and said Sousa “ Tried to dead” her.

Opposing bail, the officer said: “This is a very serious incident and there might be another offence added. Had it not been for the actions of the neighbour going to the address police are of the opinion we could have been dealing with something worse.”

There were also concerns if released Sousa would return to a domestic setting where further offences may occur.

An alternative address was put forward but when officers called at the property, the occupant claimed he didn’t know Sousa.

A defence solicitor however told the court this was “more likely out of concern that police had come to his door.”

Having been present throughout the police interviews the defence stated he was previously told bail would not be opposed, however the officer at court stressed he was not of that opinion and was unsure why this had been suggested by colleagues.

The defence added his client: “Gave a full account of his actions which came about while he trying to restrain his wife who was experiencing a psychotic episode. My client has no criminal record and has never come to police attention.”

But refusing bail District Judge Steven Keown commented: “This is an allegation of strangulation which includes a third party trying to intervene. The defendant failed to let go of the woman’s neck, despite attempts by the witness to get him to do so. It was only when police arrived he stopped and at that stage the woman was drifting in and out of consciousness.”

He continued: “The prolonged nature of the offence and refusal to desist gives the court grave concerns around the ability of the defendant to control himself. The risk of reoffending is too high.”

Sousa will appear again by video-link next month.

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