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28 Nov 2021

Man who threatened his wife with a knife in their home avoids a jail term

Man who threatened his wife with a knife in their home avoids a jail term

A father-of-two who threatened his partner with a knife in their home and was apprehended by an off-duty garda has received a fully suspended sentence.

Franck Lamour (53) was diagnosed with bi-polar depression approximately 15 years ago and was unable to access the medication he had been taking during the Covid-19 lockdown last April.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that this was an isolated incident which stemmed from Lamour's mental disorder and the restrictions on his life caused by the global pandemic.

Lamour of Bird Avenue, Clonskeagh, pleaded guilty to production of a knife and threat to kill or cause serious harm at his address on April 7, 2020. He has no previous convictions.

Passing sentence on Wednesday, Judge Pauline Codd said the offences were “very serious”. She said the use of a knife and threat to kill were the most significant aggravating factors, as well as the physical violence meted out.

“He effectively held her under siege for a period of time. She obviously took the threats seriously. In the course of this lengthy incident he used controlling and possessive language and expressed jealous sentiments.”

Judge Codd said some allowance had to be made for his medicine being held up, but that Lamour’s drinking had been a factor too  – and that was “his choice”.

She said the headline sentence for the offences would be eight years in prison, but took into account the accused's guilty plea, mental health history, and prior clean record.

“This was not conduct he had ever engaged in before. It does appear to be an aberration,” she said.

Judge Codd accepted he had been engaging with the HSE to secure the treatment he needs.

She sentenced Lamour to five years prison, but suspended the sentence in its entirety on condition he keep the peace, engage with the Probation Service for the next two years, and attend psychiatric appointments in this jurisdiction as long as he resides in the country.

At a previous sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Alan Conlon told Diana Stuart BL, prosecuting, that Lamour and his partner of 25 years Cecille Doussinault and their two sons moved here from France in September 2019.

Det Gda Conlon said Lamour does not speak English and that after two months in the country he began self-medicating with alcohol, though he stopped drinking after seeing a doctor. He began drinking again a week prior to the offence.

On the day of the incident he had being drinking for approximately 12 hours. Ms Doussinault woke up to find him in the living room still under the influence of alcohol.

He told Ms Doussinault that it was her fault “for bringing him here”, took her phone away from her and told her not to leave the room. He asked her to buy him vodka, but when she declined he said they would go together.

Lamour got a knife from the kitchen and told her not to shout for help. Ms Doussinault attempted to wake one of her sons by opening his bedroom door, but Lamour brought the knife close and told her not to wake him up or “it would not be good for you”.

The accused “effectively walked her down to the shops” with the knife in his jacket pocket, the court heard. When Ms Doussinault refused to go into the shop, Lamour began running back to their home, followed quickly by Ms Doussinault who was fearful for her sons.

Garda Martin O'Rourke was in the area off-duty and noticed the two running back to their home. He decided to follow them, went to the back of their house and saw through the window the accused with a knife in his hand.

Gda O'Rourke entered the house, told Lamour to drop the knife and restrained him. He then contacted gardaí who soon arrived and arrested the accused.

Det Gda Conlon agreed with Barry Ward BL, defending that while this was “obviously terrifying” for the victim, it was an isolated incident. He agreed that Lamour has followed all conditions of his bail and not had any contact with his former partner.

The garda agreed with counsel that Lamour is “not a domestic abuser in the traditional sense”, saying the offences appear to have stemmed from the circumstances of his mental disorder and the “restrictions on his life” caused by the global pandemic.

Mr Ward said that the medication his client used to treat his Type-2 bi-polar disorder is not prescribed in Ireland and his client would travel to France to collect it. He said his client was prevented from travelling to France by the lockdown that came into effect in March 2020.

Counsel said a psychiatrist has stated in a report before the court that his client has 79% disability as a result of his condition. He said his client is now managing his condition and it is “extremely unlikely” an incident such as this will recur.

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