'I hope other victims will speak out' - woman wins €150k over attack by ex
A woman awarded €150,000 in damages after being severely beaten by the father of her two children has said she hopes the ruling will encourage other victims of domestic violence to come forward.
Former soldier Jonathan McSherry (36), who served 22 months of a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for the attack on Jessica Bowes, accepted he broke nearly every bone in her face and kicked her a number of times during a horrific attack in 2015.
He had apologised and her case against him was before the High Court for assessment of damages yesterday.
McSherry, formerly of Cedar Brook Walk, Cherry Orchard, Dublin, attacked Ms Bowes after she arrived at her Clondalkin home in a taxi from a Christmas night out on December 20, 2015, to find him waiting there.
CCTV footage showed him dragging her from the taxi, and then punching, kicking and dragging her along the ground.
Ms Bowes lost consciousness twice in the attack, which lasted more than a minute-and-a-half, before she crawled into a neighbour's house.
Speaking to the Herald last night after the damages ruling, she said: "I hope this will act as a deterrent, that people will realise there are possible large financial consequences as well as the threat of prison for this sort of violence.
"I've already had people write to me about it.
"One woman sent me a letter and a holy medal on Tuesday thanking me for my courage and asking me to pray for her so that she could find courage to tell the truth too.
"She went to the bother of writing the letter, getting a stamp and posting it. I was very upset for her and I will pray for her.
"She signed the letter 'an old lady', and it shows this can happen to anyone from any background," she added.
"I just hope now that with International Women's Day coming tomorrow, women everywhere will find the courage to speak out. I hope women young and old will that find strength.
"It's important for women to realise help is there for them - from places like Women's Aid - [and] that legal advice and professional help is available."
The court heard that McSherry owns two properties in Cavan, one of which he transferred into his mother's name in 2017.
In her civil action, Ms Bowes told the court that she was headbutted by McSherry and described his actions as "if he were hunting".
She tried to protect herself by crawling under a parked car and believes she was kicked up to 20 times.
She now found it difficult to fully close her lips because of the damage and felt her face appeared deformed, she said.
Doctors had to insert a permanent metal plate through her mouth to align the facial bones.
Psychological evidence showed that Ms Bowes had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic anxiety and nightmares and was fearful for her own safety and that of her children.
She was described by psychologists as severely damaged and vulnerable.
In defending the civil action, it was argued on McSherry's behalf that in the immediate aftermath of the assault Ms Bowes was examined and showed no evidence of cognitive loss.
It was also said that he had to leave the Army after the attack and had begun his own business.
McSherry accepted that he had carried out the acts seen on the video.
He said he spent seven months in a centre for his drug addiction and was released early from prison to take part in an Alcoholics Anonymous course.
He also took a course with an organisation that helps men to overcome violence.
McSherry complained that because he had been in the media over the attack no one would employ him.
He agreed he owns an apartment in Cavan, which he had transferred to his mother, and another property, also in Cavan.
Ms Justice Bronagh O'Hanlon found that Ms Bowes' account of the incident was factually correct.
It was, the judge said, an extremely serious case, with the assault causing the difficulties that she had experienced which were ongoing and permanent.
The court noted McSherry's admissions and apology did not come immediately.
It was not the function of the civil court to punish the defendant but rather to assess the appropriate damages.
The judge also noted the steps that McSherry had taken to rehabilitate himself, but did not reduce the amount of compensatory damages.
In the circumstances, the appropriate award was €150,000, she said.