Northern Ireland

Man jailed for rape and abuse of pregnant partner

Joseph Martin Healy raped, urinated on and choked his partner when she was eight months pregnant with their child
Image caption Joseph Martin Healy raped, urinated on and choked his partner when she was eight months pregnant with their child

A 29-year-old man who subjected his pregnant partner to a prolonged period of sexual and physical abuse has been jailed for 12 years.

Joseph Martin Healy raped, urinated on and choked his partner when she was eight months pregnant with their child.

Londonderry Crown Court also heard that he bit and scraped her with a kitchen knife in their home.

The woman reported the abuse to the police in September 2013.

On Thursday, a judge said the sexual and physical violence perpetrated by Healy was some of the worst he had encountered.

Healy, whose address was listed as Maghaberry Prison, stood impassively in the dock as the judge outlined in graphic detail the eight charges he had admitted.

The abuser carried out the sexual and physical assaults on his partner of three years between February and September of 2013, when she was 20 years old.

Image caption A judge at Londonderry Crown Court said Joseph Martin Healy's violence was some of the worst he had seen in a long time

The offences took place during her pregnancy and continued after she had given birth.

The judge said the rapes took place on three consecutive mornings after the victim was woken by Healy urinating on her face.

'Humiliating violence'

Healy also punched his partner to heighten his sexual feelings during intercourse.

The judge said there was "humiliating violence over and above the sexual offending".

"There is no doubt that this offending was all carried out during a time when the victim was, in effect, dictated to by the defendant," he added.

"There is a not insignificant age gap of some five years, which may well be very relevant.

"There has been a lasting impact on the victim and one can only hope that she and her child will have a good future."

Victim suffered psychologically

After his arrest in 2013, Healy admitted the physical abuse to the police, but denied the sexual offences.

One one occasion, after abusing his partner, Healy assaulted her mother 48 hours after he was released from residential care.

He was jailed for 18 months for that offence in January last year.

A victim impact report compiled by a consultant psychiatrist stated that the victim had suffered considerably on a psychological level and that her ongoing treatment and medication would continue for the foreseeable future.

Healy's trial date was fixed for last May, but shortly before the trial was due to start, he changed his not guilty pleas and admitted the offences.

As well as the 12-year sentence, Healy will be subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for an indefinite period.

"If you had contested these matters and had been found guilty by a jury, I would have imposed a sentence of 16 years," the judge told Healy.