A man who repeatedly threw boiling water over a woman, tied her up and assaulted her in a row over drugs has been jailed for four years and three months.
A number of men called to the apartment Lyndsey Byrne shared with her partner Emmet Black over the course of two days in November 2021, where the pair were assaulted and Ms Byrne was tied up, hit over the hands, arms and chest with a stick and repeatedly scalded with boiling water, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today.
Ms Byrne told gardaí she was tortured by Paul Clarke (29) and thought she was going to die from the pain she endured after he poured a kettle and several cups of freshly boiled water over her during the two attacks.
Clarke, described in court as the “main man”, was accompanied by Josh Conlon (19) on the first day of the assault, and by Craig Kelly (38) on the second day, the court heard.
Clarke, with an address at Clonard Road, Crumlin, Dublin, pleaded guilty to one count of assault causing harm to Lyndsey Byrne at the apartment she lived in with her partner Emmet Black at The Maltings, Watling Street, Dublin 8. A second count of assault causing harm to Mr Black was taken into consideration.
Conlon, of Meath Place, Thomas St, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm, and Kelly, of Dowland Road, Walkinstown, Dublin, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of simple assault.
Garda Kerrie Sullivan told Garret Baker SC, prosecuting, that Clarke phoned Mr Black on the day in question, looking for a box of cannabis that Mr Black was supposed to be holding for him. He then called to the couple’s apartment accompanied by Conlon looking for the drugs and became angry when he learned Mr Black did not have them.
The men ordered Mr Black to come up with a sum of €7,000 to pay for the missing drugs, and Mr Black left the apartment to try and get money from the credit union.
Clarke then ordered Ms Byrne to put her hands out on the table, before he repeatedly struck her with a stick – believed to be a mop or broom handle – which she described as “agony”.
The court heard Clarke then told Conlon to boil a kettle of water and to add sugar to the kettle. The sugar could not be found, but the kettle was boiled and the water was poured into a number of cups, which Clarke then poured over Ms Byrne’s hands and arms. Ms Byrne described the pain as “excruciating” but said she “just had to bear it”.
During the assault, Ms Byrne said Clarke repeatedly asked her where the drugs were but she did not know. Ms Byrne’s wrists were then bound with a phone charger and a scarf was tied around her mouth. Clarke sat her down in the chair and hit her with the stick. He tried to pour boiling water in her face at one point, but missed when she managed to turn her head aside.
Some time later Clarke phoned Mr Black and “flew into a rage” upon hearing he had not been able to get any money. He ordered Mr Black to return to the apartment and Ms Byrne was taken into the bathroom and forced into the bath.
The court heard Mr Black was attacked upon his return to the apartment and Ms Byrne was ordered to clean up the blood and tend to his head wound. The two men then left the apartment, with Clarke saying he would return the next day.
Around lunchtime on November 12, Clarke came back to the apartment accompanied by Kelly. Another row ensued about the missing drugs, before Kelly hit Ms Byrne over the chest twice with a stick and Clarke poured a kettle of boiling water over her, hitting her shoulder and arms.
The court heard Ms Byrne was in “absolute agony” and her skin was blistering. She said Clarke then told her: “You think that’s bad, wait until I skin you alive.”
The men left shortly afterwards and Ms Byrne, who had called 999 before they arrived, ran out of the apartment and was met by two gardaí. She was taken to hospital and treated for second degree burns and a suspected collapsed lung.
In her victim impact statement, which was not read out in court, Ms Byrne said it was “the most traumatic and frightening thing to have ever happened to her” and it changed her life forever. She “genuinely thought she was going to die from the pain”, Mr Baker said. Ms Byrne was in court for the sentence hearing.
The court heard Mr Black declined to co-operate with gardaí, except for allowing them access to his medical records.
The court heard the three men were identified from CCTV in the apartment building and arrested.
Clarke has been in custody ever since. He has 79 previous convictions including several for assaulting a peace officer, violent behaviour in a garda station, public order offences and assault causing harm.
Paul Carroll SC, defending Clarke, said he was not going to gainsay the “horrific nature” of the attack on Ms Byrne. He said his client is doing well in custody and had a letter of apology to hand into court.
He said Clarke had a history of drug addiction which led to him getting involved in drugs “to a certain level”.
Sentencing Clarke today, Judge Martin Nolan said his behaviour against Ms Byrne was “incredibly serious”. He noted the maximum sentence for assault causing harm is five years and that Clarke was eligible for some mitigation due to his guilty plea.
He handed down a sentence of four years and three months and backdated it to November 2021 when Clarke went into custody.
Kelly has 109 previous offences, mostly road traffic offences, but also for drug offences and robbery. Keith Spencer BL, defending, said his client had spent about four-and-a-half months in custody on this matter. The maximum sentence for simple assault is six months.
Judge Nolan handed Kelly a five-month sentence for his role in the incident and took into account the time he has already spent in custody, noting Kelly would not spend much longer in custody as a result.
Defence counsel for Conlon told the court he was the youngest defendant by 10 years and had just turned 18 on the day in question. He has no previous convictions.
He said Conlon “broke ranks” with his co-accused and pleaded guilty at an early opportunity, compared to the other two who entered guilty pleas on the first day of his trial. He expressed remorse, the court heard.
Judge Nolan said he would consider Conlon’s case overnight and sentence him tomorrow.