herald

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Dad kicked woman to death 'over rumours his baby was in care'

AN ANGRY father will be sentenced later this month for killing a woman because he thought she was spreading rumours about his new-born baby being taken into care.

Wesley Ward (33) pulled Tracey O'Brien to the ground and kicked and stamped on her head outside the Rotunda Hospital. The mother of his child was also involved in the attack. She was acquitted of manslaughter but convicted of assault causing harm last month.

The court heard Ward told gardai on his arrest: "All I did was kick her in the face, what's wrong with that?"

Ward, of Aras Na Cluaine, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Ms O'Brien (31) in Dublin on June 25, 2009. The victim was in hospital for a week after the assault before she died of her injuries, which included a skull fracture and a brain haemorrhage.

The court heard Ward was a promising footballer in his youth before he fell into heroin addiction.

He played for Home Farm and Monaghan Town football clubs and was also called for a trial with Queens Park Rangers.

After hearing evidence of the killing, Judge Martin Nolan remanded Ward on bail to face sentence later this month.

Detective Sergeant Desmond McTiernan told the court that Ward's former partner, Michelle Brannigan gave birth to a child which suffered from severe medical difficulties.



confronted

Shortly after the birth, Ward arrived at the maternity hospital and told Brannigan that Ms O'Brien was spreading false rumours that the child had been taken into care. Ms O'Brien came down to the hospital and Ward and Brannigan confronted her outside.

A fight broke out between the victim and Brannigan and the two were exchanging punches before Ward intervened and pulled Ms O'Brien to the ground by her hair. He then punched and stamped on her head while she lay on the ground.

After the fight Brannigan and Ms O'Brien made up and sat on a bench talking. Ms O'Brien was bleeding heavily, disorientated and vomiting. She was taken to hospital where she fell into a coma and died a week later.

The coroner determined she died from the injuries to the back of her head which were most likely sustained when she was pulled to the ground by Ward. The report noted she suffered from several serious diseases which would have greatly shortened her life expectancy.

Ward was arrested a week after the attack. He made admissions and told gardai Ms O'Brien was "mouthing off to people about my baby being taken into care, half the town knew."

Ward has nine previous convictions for matters such as common assault, theft and road traffic offences.

hnews@herald.ie

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