Thursday, June 23, 2022

A WOMAN who bit another woman’s finger off during a fight, has escaped prison due to “turning her life around”. Stephanie Domingos (32), who now lives in 16 Whitechapel Grove, Clonsilla, Dublin 15, had been charged with assault causing harm after the incident, which occurred in the early hours of January 27, 2019.

Garda Eugene Cronin testified that he was on duty the following day when the victim presented at Waterford Garda Station and showed the damage that she alleged had been done by Ms Domingos to her finger. She said that she had been in University Hospital Waterford that day for treatment and was able to give a full account as to what happened. The court heard that the women were out socialising together on the night of January 26 and as the night grew later, tensions had grown between the pair and ended in an altercation on the streets of Waterford city centre at 2am. During this altercation, Ms Domingos bit the index finger of the victim’s left hand and it needed extensive medical treatment and plastic surgery.

In the victim’s impact statement, which was read aloud in court by Garda Cronin, the young woman said that “since she was viciously attacked, whilst trying to have a fun night with my friends, my whole life has drastically changed for the worst.”

She said that she struggles to go out at night again for fear that it could happen again and has had to travel to Cork numerous times for extensive surgery on her finger.

“My finger had to be reconstructed, having been bitten off,” the victim said through her statement. “It still causes me an enormous amount of pain and this affects me doing my daily tasks. At night I struggle to sleep as I am constantly waking from night terrors, which is putting a strain on my mental health and I have recently been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Before this happened I was on a CE scheme working 19 hours a week. I am currently on disability and cannot work.”

The victim says she struggles with the idea of going out to socialise now and that she constantly worries about something like this happening to her again.

 

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Ms Domingos has seven previous convictions, including for assault causing harm, obstructing a police officer, public order offences and threatening and abusive behaviour. She was represented by Donnchadh Morgan BL (under instructions from solicitor Ken Cunningham) who said that Ms Domingos deeply regretted what she had done and had already paid her victim a total of €5,000 in compensation. He admitted that the injuries caused by Ms Domingos were “grim and horrific” but that she was deeply apologetic to the victim and completely accepts what she did.

He said that a guilty plea was made at the earliest possible opportunity, preventing the need for the victim to testify at a trial, but more importantly, Ms Domingos had endeavoured to completely “turn her life around”.

Mr Morgan said that she was originally from the Congo and had endured a lot of trauma in her childhood. He said that she admitted that alcohol misuse had led to her making the wrong decisions in her life but that she was “resilient” and had now matured in life.

The court heard that Ms Domingos was now in a stable relationship and worked full-time in a bar in Dublin. Mr Morgan said that a letter of apology had been sent in November 2021, which stated that “from the bottom of her heart, she was sorry”. He asked Judge Eugene O’Kelly to consider putting back the sentencing for a year to give her a chance to prove that she can have a more positive attitude.

Judge O’Kelly said that this had been a “very nasty assault” that caused extensive damage to the victim’s finger and had a very negative effect on her life. He said that an assault like this would have a headline sentence of 3.5 years in prison but that Mr Morgan had made a “very strong plea in mitigation”. He said that the compensation of €5,000 was a significant amount for such a relatively young person and that he was impressed with the positive testimonial for her current employer, for which she was now a full-time worker.

He also acknowledged the positive probation report which stated that she had been a “vulnerable, traumatised woman” who had survived abuse in her life. It added that Ms Domingos had “developed resilience and forged a new life for herself”.

Taking all this into consideration, Judge O’Kelly reduced the headline sentence to two years, which he then suspended for two years.

“You are getting a chance today Ms Domingos,” Judge O’Kelly said. “Do not abuse it”.

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