A DAD-of-three who told his ex-wife he had a rope in their shed and was going to hang her has been caged for five years.
Businessman Michael Quirke, 53, of Manor Hills, Rathcormac, Co Cork, also confessed to injuring his wife, Mary Quirke.
He put a belt tight around her neck and pulled her up out of a chair before releasing her.
Quirke appeared in Cork Circuit Criminal Court today on charges relating to a number of incidents.
He pleaded guilty to making threats to kill his ex-wife and to cause her serious harm, as well as assault causing her serious harm, harassing her by putting a GPS tracing device on her car and to intimidating her in a phone call.
The incidents happened in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
The court was told that Quirke ran a successful fuel business and was also involved in property.
The couple separated in 2010. They divorced in 2013 but continued to live in the same house until last year.
Detective Garda David Barry said Michael Quirke called to Fermoy Garda Station on January 31, 2020, and made a voluntary statement in which he admitted assaulting his wife a few days previous by choking her with a belt for about three seconds. It was his intention to kill her at that stage.
He also said he intended killing his wife.
He said Quirke told how on August 21, 2018, he had put a belt around Mary’s neck as she was sitting in a chair in her bedroom and he pulled her up with it.
Her screams were heard by two of their children, who were in the house, and they ran up to try and get into the locked bedroom before he released it.
Quirke also said he held his ex-wife against a wall and told her he had a rope in the shed and he was going to use it to hang her.
He had his hands in his pockets and said he knew if he took them out he would have killed her.
He told Gardai: “I did threaten her that I had a rope in the shed and I would hang her. If my hands came out of my pocket I would have killed her.”
Garda Barry said officers contacted Mrs Quirke and asked her to come into the station to make a statement but she refused saying she needed some time to consider it.
Quirke was arrested in March 2020 following which Mary made a statement in relation to the two incidents in which he threatened to kill her. She said she was in fear of him because of an escalation in his behaviour.
She said she thought she was being followed and Gardai found a GPS tracking on her car which had been there for a number of months.
Later she contacted Gardai to say she wanted to withdraw her statement and complaint, but at that stage the Director of Public Prosecutions had processed the Garda file and directed in June last year that Quirke be prosecuted.
On December 6 last year Quirke, who was out on High Court bail, phoned Mary and threatened her.
He told her: “Even if I do go to jail when I get back out even if that’s in two years I will be the same man when I get back out and you will have to deal with it then. The guards will not be around you when you need them most.
“When I get out of jail in two years I will be the same. You won’t have that protection that you have now. You have 24 hours around the clock Garda armed response and they won’t be there when you need them most.”
As a result of that call, Quirke’s bail was revoked and he was remanded in custody to Cork Prison.
VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT
In a Victim Impact Statement, Mary said she and her three children, two sons and a daughter aged from 24 to 19 were mentally scarred as a result of the incidents.
She said: “I do not believe Michael Quirke understands the consequences of his previous actions. I am very concerned that if he is released from custody, similar and probably more serious incidents will occur.
“For this reason I am afraid for my own safety and for the safety of my three children. They share my fears and are very concerned as to the possibility of losing a parent or both parents, or worse still a sibling over a matter that has got out of control.
“I believe my former husband should be excluded from the townland of Lisnagar as he previously was in accordance with his bail conditions until the court believes the physical risk to me and my children no longer exists.”
She also said she hoped and “was indeed anxious that my former husband would receive all necessary medical assistance” and wished him all the best in his future.
She said: “I hope he seeks professional help going forward as things cannot continue like this as some day in the future matters will go too far and someone in the family will get hurt or worse. I hope the court will keep his medical condition and his medical progress under regular review in the future.”
The court was told that Quirke had a problem with alcohol but his diagnosis of being bipolar was a big factor in his behaviour.
He has handed over his share of the fuel business which is located near the family home to his wife.
Judge Sean O Donnabhain was told there was no service within the community that could deal with Mr Quirke’s problems.
He described the case as “bizarre” as it was the defendant who went to the Gardai and reported what he had done to his ex-wife.
He said: “The type of behaviour with ropes and nooses was very alarming.
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“There is a serious long-term diagnosed bipolar disorder predating this, compounded by stress and other things happening to this man when he was young. Otherwise he is a man of considerable endeavour and his success in providing for his family was acknowledged by them.
“But all contact between the parties has to cease. There can be no contact physical or otherwise.”
He imposed a six year sentence on Quirke but suspended the last year. He imposed a consecutive sentence of three years on the charge of intimidation, which would normally be added to any other sentence, but he suspended it in full.