St. John’s man sentenced for assaulting two women

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Rosie Gillingham
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Striking brewery workers intervened when he was seen attacking girlfriend

When Paul Joseph Morrissey was seen shoving and spitting on his girlfriend in the middle of a downtown street last fall, bystanders were quick to intervene.

Paul Joseph Morrissey was sentenced to eight months in jail for assaulting two women, including his girlfriend, last fall.

Thanks to a group of striking Labatt workers, the woman was saved from further abuse and Morrissey ended up in jail.

During his sentencing hearing Tuesday in provincial court in St. John’s, the

34-year-old was given an eight-month prison term with two years’ probation.

With 1.5 times credit given for the 90 days he’s already been behind bars, Morrissey has just more than three months left on his term.

He’s been in custody since the incident, which happened Oct. 17 last year on McKay Street in the capital city.

According to the facts of the case that were read in court, at 1:30 p.m. that day, Morrissey had discovered a note that indicated his girlfriend — the mother of his child — was a prostitute.

In a fit of anger, Morrissey confronted the woman, pushed her and held her face against a pillow on a bed by kneeling on her neck.

Another woman who was in the house ran into the room and tried to get between the two. In doing so, she suffered an injury to her hand when Morrissey swung an end table in the direction of his girlfriend, striking the other woman. The second woman also hit her head on the doorframe when Morrissey pushed her.

When the women left the house, Morrissey followed.

Several witnesses, including a neighbour, saw him push his girlfriend against a house and spit on her. That prompted the strikers to run to the woman’s defence, keeping Morrissey away until police arriv­ed.

The girlfriend, who told police she blacked out after she was thrown against the house, suffered lacerations to her head and bruising on her neck.

Morrissey was then seen walking in and out of the house with a beer bottle and a knife.

He pleaded guilty to four charges — two counts of assault causing bodily harm and possessing a weapon dangerous to the public.

When Morrissey addressed the court, he apologized, especially for what he had done to his son’s mother, now his former girlfriend.

“A lot of this was blown out of proportion, but I take full responsibility,” he said, adding his behaviour was the result of a drinking problem, which he said he’s getting help for.

“The one I’m hurting the most is my son,” he said. “He shouldn’t have to go through this.”

Crown prosecutor Glynne Faulkner had suggested a nine-month jail sentence with three years’ probation, and straight-time pre-custody credit. She pointed to Morrissey’s prior criminal record, which includes convictions for violent acts such as assault with a weapon, uttering threats, resisting arrest and possessing a dangerous weapon.

Defence lawyer Philip Warren had recommended a six-month prison term, with 1.5 times pre-trial credit. He said Morrissey is attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and wants to get his life back on track.

In coming to his decision on sentencing, Judge Mike Madden said the fact that one of the assaults was on his partner was an aggravating factor. He said Morrissey’s past behaviour also indicates he is not getting the message.

“Nobody should be sentenced for past offences,” the judge said, “but unless steps are taken, future events will evolve, possibly even (into) killing someone.”

As part of Morrissey’s probation, he is to have no contact with the two victims, except to make arrangements to see his child with his former girlfriend.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelyCourt

Organizations: Labatt, Alcoholics Anonymous

Geographic location: McKay Street

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