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Co Tyrone man beat wife after she said baby was not his, court hears

Police found her injured and holding the child

By Alan Erwin

A man allegedly beat his wife after she claimed he was not the father of their baby, the High Court heard on Tuesday.

Police found her injured and holding the child after being called to the family home in Co Tyrone, prosecutors said.

Bernard McDonagh, 22, of Mourne Walk in Newtownstewart, faces charges of common assault, resisting police and criminal damage to a PSNI van over the incident on November 13.

A Crown lawyer said officers went to the scene late at night following a series of 999 calls made by McDonagh.

They encountered the alleged victim crying outside in the cold, with a bump on her head and scratch marks on her neck.

The prosecutor said: "She told police he (McDonagh) had beaten her over the baby, while she was holding the baby."

The defendant was allegedly seen shouting, screaming and holding an empty beer bottle.

Crown counsel said: "He told police he had been in the living room with his wife... when she unexpectedly announced their baby daughter of three months was not his."

McDonagh denied hitting her but claimed he phoned police to prevent anything happening between the couple.

The prosecutor opposed bail due to the potential risk of further offences.

She said: "It's believed he may make contact with her regarding this matter to see if it's true, there's some discussion that she said it and didn't mean it."

Martin McCann, defending, said his client did not dispute having an argument with his wife.

"If what we are asked to accept regarding his fatherhood is true, unfortunately it's likely to have provoked an angry response," he said.

"But it wasn't a situation where he then set upon his wife and thrashed her in some way."

The court was told the alleged victim may have left Northern Ireland to go to family in Dublin.

Adjourning McDonagh's application for bail, Mr Justice McAlinden said he wanted further inquiries to be made before making a decision.

He added: "The court is very mindful of sending out the correct message in relation to offences of domestic violence."

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