A man tried to choke and then threatened to "chop up" his girlfriend after she refused to eat a dinner he had cooked for her.
Stephen Coveney-Ryan pleaded guilty at Letterkenny Circuit Court to a number of charges against Roisin MacNeilis, including threatening to kill her, assaulting her and producing a knife.
The couple had met by chance only a few weeks earlier on March 17th, 2021, at Dublin's Busáras. They struck up a conversation and kept in contact by text. However, Coveney-Ryan called Ms MacNeilis one day and said he was homeless.
She invited him to stay with her at her home in Donegal town and they began a relationship.
However, as the weeks went on, Ms MacNeilis claimed he changed and became aggressive and jealous. On July 10th, the accused attacked Ms MacNeilis.
The court was told the accused had made dinner but Ms MacNeilis said she was not hungry and decided to eat a bowl of cereal instead.
He went for a walk and when he came back they initially went to separate bedrooms, but Coveney-Ryan later got into the bed beside Ms MacNeilis and began to attack her, putting his elbow to her neck before attempting to choke her.
Ms MacNeilis said she thought she was going to die at this point. She managed to get to the front door, but there were no keys, and he followed her into the bathroom and began choking her again.
He constantly shouted at Ms MacNeilis, who was eight weeks pregnant at the time. He said she was not fit to be a mother, adding he was going to drown her and kill them both.
He is also charged with producing a fishing knife during the course of the attack.
The abuse continued before Ms MacNeilis managed to jump out the window.
She drove to the woods around Harvey's Point near Donegal town and charged her phone. She then began to receive threatening messages and calls.
In the calls, the accused said he was going to chop her up and feed her to pigs and he would also kill her parents and put them into the boot of the car and bury them in a shallow grave.
She told her parents about her ordeal, and on July 12th she contacted gardaí and made a statement of complaint.
Coveney-Ryan (26), with an address at O'Clerigh Avenue, Donegal town but originally from Co Tipperary, was arrested and taken to Ballyshannon Garda station to be interviewed.
The court was told that the accused admitted he hit the victim but disagreed with many of the claims put to him including choking his victim. He also said he suffered from mental health issues.
He later admitted the claims and said he was "psychotic" on the night and that he could not believe he had said such things to Ms MacNeilis.
The court was told that the accused is originally from Co Tipperary and has a number of previous charges for various incidents including burglary, theft, intoxication, breach of a barring order, possession of drugs and using threatening and abusive language.
His barrister, David Byrnes, said his client was a lot calmer from the messages he had left on his victim's phone, adding he was also visibly upset when he heard the recordings again.
Mr Byrnes added that psychologist Dr Kevin Lambe had interviewed his client and said he was a man who needed help to navigate through the psychotic episodes he was experiencing.
During his time on remand in prison, Coveney-Ryan has completed a number of courses, including an 'alternative to violence' and Irish Red Cross course.
Mr Byrnes added that his client's behaviour was unacceptable and has no place in society, but asked Judge John Aylmer to craft rehabilitation into his sentence, suggesting this was the most suitable direction.
The court heard the victim wishes to forward a victim impact statement to the court.
Judge Aylmer adjourned the case for final sentence until Wednesday.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact Women’s Aid (24-hour freephone helpline at 1800-341 900, email email@example.com) or Men’s Aid Ireland (confidential helpline at 01-554 3811, email firstname.lastname@example.org) for support and information.
Safe Ireland also outlines a number of local services and helplines at safeireland.ie/get-help/where-to-find-help/. In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.