James Clarke, a farmer from near Raphoe in Co. Donegal, has escaped a jail term after he appeared at Letterkenny Circuit court facing charges of assault causing harm and three criminal damage charges, as reported by Donegal Daily.
The court appearance was in relation to an incident in 2015 and the courts heard that the farmer’s ex-partner, Sharon Clarke, had been drinking in Sharon’s home with her friend, Tracey McCrabb, on the night in question, August 24th. The 55-year old farmer was then contacted by the two women, who asked him to bring alcohol over and join them.
This is when the alleged assault occurred, with the farmer said to have pinned Mrs Clarke down on the sofa. She suffered bruising as a result of the incident, while damage was also caused to some of her furniture and television. In a victim impact statement, Mrs Clarke said she feared for her life during the attack.
Peter Nolan, Barrister for James Clarke, told the courts that a mixture of alcohols were consumed on the night in question, wine, poitín and vodka, with everyone drinking heavily. He alleged that Ms Clarke struck the farmer with a wine bottle during the drinking session and said there was “aggression on both sides in this case”, something Investigating Garda Tom McNally agreed with.
A probation report read out in court heard that farmer James Clarke had a difficult upbringing, while he also has 24 previous convictions. The courts also heard that the farmer has a limited education but is now working on a farm in Northern Ireland. The Probation service listed the farmer as a moderate risk of reoffending within the next twelve months.
The farmer has paid €1,400 in compensation for damages caused during the incident and stated his shame of what happened. Judge John Aylmer stated that the attack would normally merit a 15-month sentence but cited mitigating circumstances and Clarke’s admission of guilt as reasons why it wouldn’t be given.
He then sentenced the farmer to 12-months for the assault and nine months in jail for the three criminal charges brought against him. The prison term was suspended, however, for twelve months.