herald

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Attacker walks free if he pays €5k to his scarred-for-life ex

A JOURNALIST whose face was disfigured after she was attacked by her former partner believes the justice system has failed her after he walked free from court on condition he pays her compensation.

Graphic designer Mark Jordan (39), currently living in Donabate, North County Dublin, pleaded guilty to attacking his former girlfriend Jane Ruffino at their former home in Ringsend, on May 3 last.

Judge Martin Nolan imposed a two-and-a-half-year sentence which he suspended on condition that he pay her €2,000 immediately and another €3,000 within a year as a token of remorse for the attack that left her with a permanent scar on her face.

Speaking after the sentening, Ms Ruffino (37) said she believed the system had failed her.



Pricetag

"I don't think that a suspended sentence is sufficient punishment," she said.

"I think it's a systemic problem and it shouldn't be so easy for someone to walk," she said.

"While I don't feel it was a judge putting a pricetag on my face, I do think the system allows people from a certain strata of society to look remorseful with money," she said.

Judge Nolan is the same judge who made headlines last March when he jailed Dublin-based food importer Paul Begley, (46), of Rathcoole, Co Dublin, for six years for evading €1.6m in taxes due on garlic he imported from China.

The same judge also angered rape crisis networks and sex abuse support groups last month after suspending the sentence for a convicted sex attacker on condition that he pay €15,000 in compensation to his 17-year-old victim.

Graham Griffiths (29), of The Saltings, Annagassan, Co Louth, was given a four-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexually assaulting the girl on April 17, 2011. He was ordered to pay compensation "to bring home the seriousness of what he has done".

Ms Ruffino, meanwhile, said while she didn't expect her former boyfriend would be given a custodial sentence, she has been left traumatised with an unsightly scar on her face while her ex "can get on with his life".

The court heard that Mr Jordan and Ms Ruffino had been in a relationship for a year when Mr Jordan started verbally attacking Ms Ruffino after she had gone to bed on the night of May 3.



Headlock

She told the court that he suddenly went quiet, got out of bed, put her in a headlock and began punching her in the head. She was screaming and trying to get away as he screamed obscenities and abuse at her. Ms Ruffino said she feared she would be killed.

However, the court heard when Jordan noticed he had drawn blood on Ms Ruffino's face, he said "Oh s***" and told Ms Ruffino to ring the gardai.

She ran out onto the street screaming and was treated in hospital for bruising and facial injuries and received four stiches for a cut under her eye.

Jordan claimed the assault was the result of a lack of sleep and work stress. He admitted to drinking several pints prior to the attack and just "snapped" and attacked his girlfriend.

His lawyer, Elizabeth Davey, said that her client had no previous convictions and rang for an ambulance after the assault.

He also made a full admission to his crime and was seen by a witness crying at the scene following the assault, she told the court.

She also submitted character references from college friends and colleagues, who described the assault as completely out of character.

hnews@herald.ie

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