A Co Tyrone father who blinded his wife in one eye when he punched her four weeks after she gave birth has walked free from court after she begged a judge not to jail him.
Sean McDonagh (22), of The Glen, Coalisland, unlawfully and maliciously inflicted grievous bodily harm on the mother of his now one-year-old daughter and toddler son.
The victim initially alerted police from her hospital bed on November 8 last year, but later declined to make a complaint and refused access to her medical notes.
When first brought to court, police said McDonagh and his mother took the victim to hospital, but she was too scared to disclose what occurred until both left. She underwent emergency surgery for a fractured eye socket, but sight was permanently lost.
The case progressed to Dungannon Crown Court last month, but the woman refused to co-operate.
Bail was later relaxed to allow McDonagh contact with his wife who, having taken her two children to live with her father, returned to the family home.
Prosecution counsel Simon Reid said that despite best efforts to ascertain exact circumstances, it proved impossible. The victim remained adamant she would not make a complaint, instead expressing desires to reunite her family.
Nonetheless, McDonagh admitted the attack, and "had not sought to play technical games".
Defence counsel Noel Dillon said his client accepted delivering one punch, "and did not intend to cause the level of injury he did".
Mr Dillion called the victim to the witness box who said she has "normal movement in her eye, some light but no sight". She described being in a relationship with McDonagh for six years, and married for four.
Imploring Judge Brian Sherrard QC not to jail him she said: "Me and the children don't want to be separated (from him) again.
"It was out of character. It was after a really silly argument. It was just a punch. It was just a mistake. We'd just had a baby and we were in a bad mood."
"I love him," she added. "All I want is my family back together. He'll never do it again. I know."
Judge Sherrard told McDonagh: "Very grave harm was caused."
Acknowledging the attack was "spur of the moment and not premeditated", the judge imposed a 10-month prison term, suspended for three years.