NI judge calls for longer jail terms for domestic violence cases

By Lenore Rice


A Northern Ireland judge has highlighted the need for longer jail sentences for domestic violence in a case in which he gave a man an 8 month jail sentence for punching a table but could only give 5 months for the man's assault on a woman.

District Judge Barney McElholm said the maximum jail term that could be imposed for domestic violence was 6 months, but for cases of criminal damage the limit was 2 years. The comments were made at the Londonderry Magistrates Court when Judge McElholm was sentencing Michael McIntrye, who had pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend and another woman in 2017, and causing criminal damage to a table by punching it with his fists.

Judge McElholm does not believe that the six months prison sentence is a deterrent, and believes that "separate domestic violence legislation with enhanced penalties" is long overdue in Northern Ireland. He also lamented the absence of a functioning executive in Northern Ireland to address urgent issues such as these.

If you require legal advice in respect of a matter relating to domestic violence, including the application of emergency and subsequent Court Orders such as injunctions and Non-molestation and Occupation Orders, contact one of the solicitors specialising in domestic abuse at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by clicking here.