Man who threatened to pour acid over ex-girlfriend's face avoids jail

ireland
Man Who Threatened To Pour Acid Over Ex-Girlfriend's Face Avoids Jail Man Who Threatened To Pour Acid Over Ex-Girlfriend's Face Avoids Jail
Jack Cleary (25) of The Green, Beaumont Woods, Beaumont, Dublin 9, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to threatening kill Leanne Maher on July 15th, 2020. Photo: Collins Courts
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Sonya McLean

A man who threatened to pour acid in the face of a woman he met over a dating app has been described as “a monster” by the victim.

Jack Cleary (25) of The Green, Beaumont Woods, Beaumont, Dublin 9, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to threatening kill Leanne Maher on July 15th, 2020. An additional charge of harassment was taken into account. He has no previous convictions.

The court heard, when evidence was given last year, that following the breakdown of the relationship, Cleary told Ms Maher during a phone call that he would throw acid on her face and that he would kill her. He was screaming down the phone at her.

He later appeared outside her home. Her children alerted her to his presence by screaming for her, and she could see Cleary sitting outside in his car. She immediately called the gardai, but she later got another call from Cleary.

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He told her the only reason her home “was not in rubble” was because he knew her daughter slept in the same room as her. He also said he would “flood your house”.

Suspended sentence

Judge Melanie Greally sentenced Cleary to four years in prison, but suspended it for four years on condition that he engage with the Probation Service for 12 months and not have any contact, either directly or indirectly, with Ms Maher or come within 500 meters of her family home for those four years.

She noted that Cleary had ongoing mental health difficulties and said he “had neglected his mental health needs during the currency of the offending”. She said he has since re-engaged with the appropriate services and is considered to be stable and at a reduced risk of re-offending.

“I readily understand and realise that Ms Maher has been damaged, and her family life has been damaged,” Judge Greally said before she added that the offending took place over an extended period of time.

“It was serious and menacing and would cause any sane person to have real fears for their safety,” Judge Greally added.

She said Cleary was entitled to credit for his early guilty plea, his admissions to gardaí, his lack of previous convictions and the fact that he has since addressed his mental health difficulties and has had no further contact with Ms Maher.

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“An immediate custodial sentence is not necessary,” Judge Greally said.

'No justice'

She addressed Ms Maher in court and said she could report any contact by Cleary to her to the gardaí. She added that she appreciated that Ms Maher would have hoped for a different outcome.

Ms Maher spoke out in court and said “there is no justice in it”. “How dare he stand there smirking! Where is the justice in that? How do I live a normal life after what he did?” she asked.

“My children are not going to get over what he has done. He has traumatised my three children, and he is standing there smiling when my children are afraid in their beds. He is a monster,” Ms Maher said.

“My children have to grow up traumatised because of his behaviour. There is not one bit of sorriness in him,” Ms Maher added before she said that Cleary’s supporters were smirking in court too and said she hoped they were proud of him.

Judge Melanie Greally had previously adjourned the case having heard evidence because she said there were “very concerning aspects” of Cleary’s behaviour.

She accepted that the “relationship had turned ugly, for the want of a better description but the reaction to the deterioration of that relationship went so far beyond what would be considered acceptable,” the judge added.

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She had ordered a report from the Probation Services after she indicated to the woman that she wanted to ensure that something can be done to prevent him from behaving the same way to someone else.

Judge Greally acknowledged from a victim impact statement previously read in court by Ms Maher that Cleary’s behaviour severely impacted her and her children.

“It is clear that continues to be the case. She continues to be fearful, and her children have been traumatised,” Judge Greally said.

Morgan Shelly BL, defending, handed in a psychological report which outlined that Cleary had certain mental health difficulties.

“My client said something that was utterly reprehensible and he should never have said it,” Mr Shelly said before he added that Cleary is “extremely remorseful for that”.

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He handed in a number of testimonials and letters which he said outlined Cleary as someone who is kind and cares for others. He is now in a positive supportive relationship and a probation report before the court indicated he was at a low risk of re-offending, Mr Shelly said.

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 helpline@womensaid.ie) or Men’s Aid Ireland (confidential helpline at 01 554 3811, email hello@mensaid.ie) 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.

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