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Sunday 17 November 2019

'I still wake up screaming', says ex-partner beaten by Fair City actor Fitzpatrick

Sarah Behan
Sarah Behan

A young mother who was viciously beaten by an ex-Fair City star has said she is still traumatised three years after the domestic assault.

Dublin actor Patrick Fitzpatrick, who played Zumo Bishop in the RTE soap, was jailed for one month last year for viciously assaulting his then-girlfriend, Sarah Behan.

However, an appeal court suspended the balance of the sentence after Fitzpatrick (29) served just two days in prison for the attack.

Ms Behan described how, three years on, the memories of the assault still haunt her eight-year-old son, who saw Fitzpatrick repeatedly "punch, choke and drag" her through her home.

It is now the Blanchardstown mother's goal to urge other victims of domestic abuse to speak out.

"I don't think I'll ever get over what he did to me," she said.

"You always feel the effects and just learn to deal with it. My son still isn't over what happened to me either.

"He suffers from anxiety as a result and is still scared about the thought of seeing Patrick on the street.

"I believe being a victim of domestic abuse changes you as a person.

"You're never the same again and your trust just goes out the window."

The 33-year-old added that people who are victims of domestic abuse need to get out of the relationship before things get out of hand.

Actor Patrick Fitzpatrick
Actor Patrick Fitzpatrick

"Unfortunately, it comes with a huge amount of stigma and shame," she said.

"My advice to anyone going through what I endured is to watch out for the early warning signs.

"If you have any doubt, just get out before it goes too far. Patrick put my son and I through absolute hell.

"I suffered two busted lips and a badly bruised eye.

"My head was also completely covered in bald spots due to the attack.

"But it is the psychological scars that are worse.

Actor Patrick Fitzpatrick, who played Zumo in Fair City
Actor Patrick Fitzpatrick, who played Zumo in Fair City

"Sometimes I wake up at night screaming, thinking someone is in my room.

"My son sleeps with me nearly every night because he's terrified about being left on his own.

"He suffers with very bad anxiety and goes into hysterics if he's ever cornered or locked in a room."

Released

Fitzpatrick, of Hollytree Terrace, Ballymun, was sentenced at Blanchardstown District Court last July for assault causing harm to Ms Behan on September 18, 2016, at an address in Blanchardstown.

He had pleaded guilty and the sentence was imposed by Judge David McHugh.

But two days later, the actor was released pending the appeal, which was heard at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

The judge said Fitzpatrick's probation report was positive and he did not see "any purpose" in imposing a prison sentence.

Instead, he suspended the balance of the one-month sentence and put Fitzpatrick on a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for two years, on condition he does not communicate with Ms Behan.

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