'I remember the bones in my face cracking… I was in agony' – woman describes 'terror' attack as ex-partner is jailed

A woman whose ex-partner attacked her, breaking several bones in her face and tearing out clumps of her hair has told a court that the “terror and torture” she suffered would be with her forever.

John Brennan (44) of Dun Emer Place, Lusk, Dublin, was sentenced to three years in prison with the final 12 months suspended yesterday.

The father-of-one pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm of his then girlfriend at his home on August 31, 2014. He has one previous drink driving conviction.

The court heard that Brennan hit the woman after a verbal disagreement. She tried to take refuge in his car, but he struck her head off the steering wheel, dragged her by her hair from the car, back inside the house, and continued to punch her in the face until she managed to escape.

In a victim impact statement read out in court on her behalf, the woman said she remembered the first punch to her face as clearly as if it were yesterday.

“I remember the bones in my face cracking and the blood rushing, I was in agony and could hardly move,” she said.

She said that afterwards she couldn’t eat for months due to her broken facial bones and the stitches in her mouth, and was completely dependent on the care of her son.

The woman said she was once a strong, independent person who raised her three children alone and worked as a nurse caring for sick people, but that now she was on medication and couldn’t make plans. She said she just gets through each day, one at a time.

“I really thought he was going to kill me,” she said.

Judge Melanie Greally set a headline sentence of four years but reduced it on account of Brennan’s early guilty plea, his previous good character, his expressions of remorse and his good employment record.

The judge pointed out that due to an administrative error on the part of the gardaí, there was a significant delay in bringing the case to court, leaving Brennan with a reasonable expectation that no action was going to be taken.

Judge Greally said it was unfortunate that the victim was subjected to a lengthy and anxious wait for court proceedings and she hoped the conclusion of the case would help in her recovery.

The judge noted that while the woman still had some residual physical consequences including back pain, the most lasting and serious effect had been on her mental health.

The court heard that the woman suffers from severe anxiety, panic attacks, night terrors and flashbacks where she remembers being punched and hearing her bones crack.

“She lives with those memories and finds it extremely difficult to shed them,” said the judge.


Garda Leona Lennon told Dean Kelly BL, prosecuting, that the injured party was in Brennan’s house when he began singing along to “rebel songs” and shouting “Brits dead, Brits should be dead.”

Brennan told the woman he would put a gun to the head of her son, who was a member of the British Army. She turned off the music and he slapped her across the face.

The woman left the house and attempted to get into Brennan’s car, but he prevented her by grabbing hold of the door. He punched her twice in the face and pulled her out of the car by her hair.

Brennan dragged her back into his house and began punching her in the face as she lay on the ground. She eventually escaped the house and neighbours allowed her to stay in their house until gardaí arrived.

She sustained three fractures to her eye socket, nasal bone and cheekbone, which had to be fitted with a plate during surgery.

The woman also suffered a black eye, bruising on her face, finger and lower back, and tufts of her hair were pulled out.

The court heard that Brennan accepted responsibility for the injuries but provided an alternative narrative. He told gardaí he thought the woman was going to drive off and he feared for her safety and that of others.

“I banged her head off the steering wheel out of frustration, it all happened in a flash,” he told gardaí.

Patricia Wilson BL, defending, said her client had apologised to the woman by text shortly after the incident and was very remorseful.

She said he had made an offer of compensation of €10,000, the maximum he could get on loan from the bank, but accepted that he would need to be at liberty in order to repay the loan.

The court heard that Brennan has worked in the same position as a dispatch manager for 24 years and has a five-month-old son with a new partner.

The judge refused compensation and ordered Brennan to be of good behaviour for the suspended portion of his sentence.

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