A Court has heard distressing details of an alleged domestic violence attack which began while a woman was driving her drunk husband home from a bar, and continued at their home until police arrived.
Victor Johnston (60) of Innishroosk Road, Lisnaskea is accused of causing actual bodily harm to the victim on 10 December, in what a judge described as, “sustained” domestic violence.
At the end of the initial hearing, the defendant was ordered to abide by a curfew, refrain from alcohol and be electronically tagged.
A police officer, who was sworn in at Dungannon Court, confirmed she could connect Johnston to the charge.
She added that police were opposed to bail as they believed there has been on-going physical violence in the relationship, including a report to police 30 years ago which was later withdrawn.
The officer said police were alerted to the situation at 10.30 that night when the couple’s daughter rang police to say her father was beating her mother.
Outlining the circumstances of the alleged attack, the officer explained the victim’s husband had phoned her from a Tempo bar, demanding she collect him.
She knew he was drunk and in bad humour, but drove to the bar.
Once Johnston was in the car and whilst the victim was driving, he lifted his right hand and slapped her in the face. He then grabbed her hair and pulled her head down, then pushed her head off the driver’s window.
The attack continued but Johnston shouted at the victim to keep driving. However, she managed to pull the car over and escape.
She began to walk along the road, crying and feeling “dizzy, traumatised and confused.”
After a time, the victim flagged down a vehicle she recognised and asked to be taken to her daughter’s.
She explained what had occurred and, after some time decided to go home, despite her daughter asking her to stay.
She said that, on arriving at her home Johnston wasn’t in, but he appeared around an hour later in an aggressive mood.
He proceeded to grab her by the hair and pull her from the sofa to the floor, where he kicked her all over her body, whilst calling her a whore.
The victim fled to a bedroom, but Johnston followed and pushed her hard in the chest into a wardrobe door, with such force the door dislocated from its hinges.
She fell to the floor where Johnston placed his foot on her face and called her a tramp.
The victim was shaking and very frightened.
She crawled to another room and managed to get to a phone to contact her daughter, who arrived on the scene.
She in turn called the police as well as paramedics and the victim was taken to hospital.
A police doctor later assessed the injuries and found them to be consistent with the victim’s’ account of the incident.
Two separate clumps of her hair were discovered in the house, which were seized by police.
Johnston was arrested and, during police questioning was “selective” in what he could recall, although he didn’t deny causing the injuries.
He did state: “I’m very sorry. I’m disgusted with what I’ve done.”
The officer told the court Johnston had “a substantive record and has a propensity to be violent.”
She added, “We believe the victim has been subject to violence and humiliation which went unreported.”
A defence barrister at this point intervened.
“It is accepted this is serious charge, but it is important the court understands the officer’s comments on previous domestic incidents are simply assertions and not proven fact.”
He accepted Johnston had violence convictions in the past, but the defence argued these were historic in nature and not domestic-related.
District Judge John Meehan agreed to bail but on very strict terms.
Ordering Johnston to reside with a family member in Armagh, he stated: “The injured party must be left in peace whilst the PPS continue with the case. The sustained nature of the alleged violence is concerning.”
Johnston was ordered to have no contact in any way with the victim, and is barred from entering Lisnaskea or the area around his home.
He is further to abide by a curfew, refrain from alcohol and be electronically tagged.
The defence objected to the imposition of a tag, claiming the bail terms in place “were stringent enough”.
But Judge Meehan replied: “You are right, the terms are stringent. The tag is to control movement.”
Johnston was ordered to be released on bail of £350 with a £350 surety.
He is due to appear at Enniskillen Magistrates Court later this month.
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