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Coercive control conviction has 'rattled the cages' of new legislation in the courts

Ireland’s first trial conviction for coercive control has “rattled the cages” of the legisl...
Michael Staines
Michael Staines

08.17 12 Nov 2020


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Coercive control conviction ha...

Coercive control conviction has 'rattled the cages' of new legislation in the courts

Michael Staines
Michael Staines

08.17 12 Nov 2020


Share this article


Ireland’s first trial conviction for coercive control has “rattled the cages” of the legislation and shown that it is fit for purpose, according to the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

A 52-year-old man, who can’t be named for legal reasons, was convicted of coercive control, intimidation and multiple assault charges following a 21-day trial.

It is the first time a jury has found anyone guilty of coercive control since the offence was introduced under the Domestic Violence Act.

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On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre CEO Noeline Blackwell said it was an “extremely important” conviction.

“It has been totally tested now through the courts,” she said. “Decided by a jury and the judge has to pass sentence on it yet.

“So, it has really rattled the cages of the legislation and shown that it is an important piece.”

She said each offence in the trial would have been tried separately under previous legislation.

“The fact that someone was in fear that they would be assaulted again and so did something because somebody else manipulated them – all of these things had to be taken as separate charges and they did not show the proper picture of intimate abuse,” she said.

“Intimate abuse is where one partner abuses the other in a way that manipulates them, that isolates them and that coerces them.

“So, this criminal offence, which has now been thoroughly tested in the Circuit Court, has shown that this really wasn’t just an incident.

“This was a pattern of behaviour and it is a pattern of behaviour that is regularly repeated in intimate violence where people will take whatever tools they have in order to abuse somebody.

“The person they are abusing is the person whom the person may be entitled to trust the most.

“In a sense it is a way of recognising that in a person’s own home, in the intimate sphere, great damage can be done and it wasn’t put together in this way until the Domestic Violence Act introduced coercive control.”

Speaking after the conviction yesterday, Garda Chief Superintendent Finbarr Murphy praised the woman for coming forward and described her as a “beacon of hope to a lot of people who find themselves in a similar situation.”

Ms Blackwell said the conviction sends out the message that this type of abuse is not acceptable and Gardaí can help if you come forward.

“So, for all survivors, just know it is not proper,” she said.

“Even though part of the manipulation is to convince people that they are the problem and this woman said as well that she was told that she was a piece of rubbish – No.

“That is not the case and that is an important statement and our law is there for everybody in that situation.”

If you are the victim of domestic abuse, please call Women’s Aid 24-hr Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900 or dial 999 if it’s an emergency situation


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