Five-year prison term for ‘brutal’ girlfriend attack

Five-year prison term for ‘brutal’ girlfriend attack

9 October 2019

A DRUMANESS man was jailed for five years last week after he launched a “brutal, sustained attack” on his girlfriend in front of her younger brother and friends during a drinking session.

The victim sat in the gallery of Downpatrick Crown Court in support of 24 year-old Casey Morgan, from Cumber Hill, at the sentencing on Friday.

Morgan is to spend three years in jail and will serve the remaining two years on supervised licence out of custody.

He was convicted in June by a jury of assault causing actual bodily harm and criminal damage.

Friday’s court heard how he tore his girlfriend’s clothes as he punched, kicked and throttled her on December 14 last year.

Morgan, who has 62 previous convictions, had denied the charges. 

The court was told that the defendant and his girlfriend were drinking with friends in a derelict building when Morgan began to attack and choke her in front of everyone. 

A prosecutor said that the attack continued outside where the woman curled up on the ground to protect herself.

He said that the witnesses initially told police and ambulance officers that the young woman had fallen into a hole in the floor of the house.

However, when the victim went back into the house with police to get her mobile phone, she told the officer that Morgan had attacked her.

The victim then made a statement of complaint about Morgan to police the next day, only to withdraw it three days later.

The prosecutor said the victim, who had been declared a hostile witness during the trial, had sustained cuts and bruises, a bloodied nose, sore ribs and bruises to head, arms, upper thighs and her back. 

The prosecutor said that the jury had accepted evidence that Morgan pressurised the victim to withdraw her statement and to say that she fell down a hole in the house instead.

The prosecutor added that there were several aggravating features to Morgan’s attack — that it was a domestic violence incident as he had a relationship with the victim, that it was a protracted attack in front of others and that Morgan had an “extensive previous record for violence”.

Defence barrister Conor O’Kane said the victim was still in love with Morgan.

“She doesn’t like what he did or approve of it, but does not want this man to go to jail,” Mr O’Kane remarked.

He acknowledged that a pre-sentence report rated Morgan at a “dangerousness” level for potentially doing more harm.

However, he also told the court that Morgan had come from a sad family background, having been introduced to drink and drugs “at an alarmingly early age” at home.

He said that despite having his issues with drink and drugs over the years, he was now “drug-free” in custody.

Mr O’Kane also said that Morgan had suffered “serious loss and trauma” since his mother’s murder in Belfast in 2013, the death of his brother last year due to a 

suspected drugs overdose and his father being left with “life-changing injuries” when he fell from a roof. He also pointed out that Morgan was not in current contact with his sister.

He added that Morgan’s aunt had sent an “eloquent” letter to the court to speak up for her nephew. 

Judge Geoffrey Miller acknowledged Morgan’s earlier life. “It is very sad but not surprising that he has spent all of his formative years in custody.”

He noted that the pre-sentence report indicated a high likelihood of reoffending. 

Describing Morgan as “an angry man”, the judge said he accepted that the attack was one of “protracted violence” and that Morgan had caused some duress to the victim to get her to withdraw her statement. 

He said that while he was also impressed by Morgan’s letter to the court, the defendant was responsible for his actions.