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The man pleaded guilty to two charges of criminal damage and one charge of assaulting a woman, all relating to offences at a house in Park Avenue, Clonroad, Ennis. Photograph by John Kelly

Man attacked woman in her home a month before killing another

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A MAN kicked in the door of woman’s bedroom and assaulted her just over a month before murdering another woman in Ennis, a court has heard.

Patrick Ballard (35) is serving a life sentence for the murder of mother of two Sharon Bennett (29) in the market area of Ennis on January 28, 2021.

Ballard, with former addresses at the Ashford Court hotel, Ennis, appeared before Ennis district this week to be sentenced for offences he committed in the town on December 23, 2020.

He pleaded guilty to two charges of criminal damage and one charge of assaulting a woman, all relating to offences at a house in Park Avenue, Clonroad, Ennis.

The court heard Ballard has 140 previous convictions including four for assault and nine for criminal damage.

Judge Mary Larkin said the accused’s criminal record has to be considered “quite significant”.

Of the assault Ballard committed in December 2020, Judge Larkin said, “This woman was attacked in her bedroom when he kicked down the door which must have an extremely frightening experience”.

Judge Larkin imposed a nine month sentence for assault and a six month sentence for criminal damage.

Both sentences will be served concurrent to the life sentence Ballard is currently serving.

In her plea in mitigation, solicitor Tara Godfrey said her client made a “significant attempt to end his life” between November 2020 and January 2021.

Ms Godfrey said her client had a chaotic life marked by addiction, mental health difficulties and that access to mental health services was limited during covid.

She said Ballard “deeply regrets” his actions.

Judge Larkin said she accepted Ballard had an “extremely difficult life”.

Judge Larkin said, “But I have to consider the victims in these cases and how these people had been endangered by his conduct”.

Ballard had pleaded guilty to the murder of Sharon Bennett two days after his trial at the central criminal court commenced.

The court heard that Ballard attacked Ms Bennett by violently stamping on and kicking her head in a public toilet.

The attack was witnessed by a number of members of the public.

Ms Bennett died in hospital in Limerick on February 10, 2021, due to her injuries.

At Ballard’s sentencing hearing for the murder of Sharon Bennett, Mr Justice Paul Burns noted that the circumstances of the killing were “truly harrowing and grim” and said that this was “yet another violent killing” where the victim was a woman and the perpetrator was a man with whom she was in a relationship.

He said she had been subjected to “brutal and sustained attack” in a public toilet at the hands of the accused.

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