By Gordon Deegan
A mother of two who was subjected to an alleged serious assault in Ennis last month lost her fight for life in hospital on Wednesday.
Wexford native, Sharon Bennett (29) died at University Hospital Limerick in the early hours of Wednesday morning 13 days after she was admitted to the hospital.
Ms Bennett was brought to hospital suffering serious head injuries after being allegedly assaulted by her boyfriend, Patrick Ballard (34) in Ennis’ Market area on the evening of Thursday, January 28, last.
Reacting to the confirmation of Ms Bennett’s death on Wednesday, the Mayor of Clare, Councillor Mary Howard (FG) said, “It is absolutely heartbreaking to hear that two children will be left without their mother.”
The Ennis based councillor stated, “It is so sad that they grow up and their Mammy isn’t there.”
Ms Bennett had her two children from a previous relationship and Cllr Howard said, “My thoughts and prayers are with her family and her friends who are absolutely heartbroken at this time and I say that on behalf of the people of Clare.”
Cllr Howard commented, “There was great fight in Sharon to fight for 13 days but it wasn’t to be.”
Supt Brendan McDonagh of Ennis Garda Station stated, “It is very sad. Sharon Bennett had severe injuries to her brain and unfortunately she didn’t make it.”
Supt McDonagh confirmed that Ms Bennett “passed away in the early hours of this morning at Limerick hospital”.
Supt McDonagh said that Gardaí have allocated a level of resources into the investigation to date that would be normally given to a murder investigation.
He stated that following Ms Bennett’s death “we will be reviewing the charge as it stands. The accused has been charged with assault causing harm and we will consult with the DPP on the matter of further charges”.
Supt McDonagh stated that Gardaí will also await the results of the post-mortem on Ms Bennett’s remains and the post-mortem is due to be carried out by Acting State Pathologist, Dr Linda Mulligan on Wednesday afternoon.
Supt McDonagh stated that Ms Bennett was originally from County Wexford.
He said, “Sharon had been living in the Corofin area of Clare before moving into the Ennis area. Sharon had been living in the Clare area for a number of years.”
Tributes were being paid online to Ms Bennett on Wednesday with one describing Sharon as “an absolute angel” with another saying that Sharon “was always so pleasant with a lovely smile”.
Supt McDonagh stated that Ms Bennett is the first woman to die in a violent situation in a long time in County Clare.
Figures from Women’s Aid show that Ms Bennett is the third woman to die in violent circumstances to date this year.
This compares to a total of four for 2020 and five for 2019.
The accused man in the case, Mr Ballard of Ashford Court Hotel, Ennis is scheduled to make an application for bail in the High Court on Thursday, February 11th.
This followed Mr Ballard failing to secure bail at a special sitting of Ennis District Court last month when first charged with assault causing harm of Ms Bennett.
Mr Ballard is currently on remand in custody at Limerick prison and is due to appear in Ennis court again via video link concerning the alleged assault next month. When charged and cautioned by Det Garda Noelle Bergin on January 29 at Ennis Gardai Station, Mr Ballard replied “I’m sorry for what happened.” The Garda investigation to date has included statements from people who were in the area at the time going about their business.
The Garda have also harvested CCTV footage from a number of premises in the vicinity of the alleged assault. Mr Ballard had been living under the care of the Simon Community at the Ashford Court hotel in Ennis.
Solicitor for Mr Ballard, Tara Godfrey told the court last month Mr Ballard suffers from significant psychiatric difficulties and has spent the last number of years more often than not homeless.