A 43-year-old man who assaulted his ex-wife in front of their children has been given a probation order and community service.

James Armstrong of Rossfad Road, Ballinamallard, who had been convicted after contest, carried out the assault on October 21, 2018 when his ex-wife came to collect their children from his house.

The court heard that on the day in question, the injured party had gone to collect the children from the former family home which the defendant had been living in alone since February 2018. The injured party asked for Christmas decorations and some of her grandfather’s belongings to be returned. It was at this point that Armstrong pushed her out of the front door which caused her to stumble.

When the injured party tried to move into the house, the 43 year old put his hands around her neck and told her to get out of the house. The injured party then went to the window which Armstrong had thrown the children’s schoolbags out of and again asked for her grandfather’s belongings and it was here that Armstrong punched his ex-wife, cutting her lip. The injured party had voice recordings of the incident as well as pictures of her injuries.

When Armstrong was interviewed he said his wife had arrived at the house to collect the kids and he had asked her to leave but he denied pushing her or assaulting her. Armstrong’s defence barrister, Ciaran Roddy, described the incident as “unsavoury” saying the aggravating features in the case were the injuries suffered, that it occurred in the presence of children and was a domestic incident. Mr. Roddy told the court that the facts did not tell the full story and that there was a “degree of provocation” in how the injured party conducted herself.

Referring to the pre-sentence report he pointed out that his client was candid in his admission that he had struggled with the breakdown of the marriage and separation from his children made it all the more turbulent.

He continued by saying that often domestic abuse incidents have previous allegations or show a “campaign” of incidents but that this was not the case here and was very much an aberration and a blot on his client’s copy book.

District Judge Michael Ranaghan said he presumed Armstrong denied the offences but he had been convicted by this court.

He said domestic violence was distasteful especially taking place in front of children.

Judge Ranaghan continued by saying he did not hold much in what Mr. Roddy said about there being some provocation and he ordered Armstrong to serve one probation and 80 hours of community service. Armstrong also was ordered to pay £300 in compensation to his ex-wife.

Armstrong was warned if he breached any of the orders her would find himself back in court and that jail was a possibility as the custody threshold has been met.