A violent criminal who told his then partner that he would “rip” their unborn daughter from her as he punched and kicked her in the stomach has been jailed for 13 years by a judge at the Central Criminal Court.
Dean Paget (34) pleaded guilty to attempting to murder his former partner Lisa Ward and accepted the facts in relation to a charge of intentionally ending the life of a foetus – his own unborn child.
At a sentencing hearing on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said a headline sentence of 20 years would be appropriate for such “vicious violence” coupled with “appalling threats” to Ms Ward and their baby. But the judge said he would make a substantial reduction after taking into account Paget’s guilty plea and his attempts to deal with his drug and alcohol issues.
He sentenced Paget to 14 years with the final 12 months suspended for two years on condition Paget work with probation services and continue to deal with his drug and alcohol addiction.
Paget, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Lisa Ward on April 25th, 2021, at Montague Lane in Dublin city centre. The court also took into account a charge of intentionally ending the life of a foetus, threatening to kill Ms Ward and their baby and the false imprisonment of Ms Ward.
The court heard further evidence on Tuesday that during a prolonged final assault after they had entered their tent on Montague Lane, Paget suffocated and choked his victim, punched her when she cried out and told her this was the moment she was going to die.
Mr Justice McDermott said CCTV footage showed Paget subjecting Ms Ward to a “series of vicious assaults and appalling threats to her own life and her baby’s life”.
He said Paget had struck her repeatedly, kicked her “viciously in the abdomen”, punched her in the abdomen and dragged her by the hair. The violence he used was “severe and terrifying,” he said, and his threats to her included threats to kill Ms Ward. He referenced the child by the name they had chosen, Ruby Rose, and said he would: “Rip her out of you.”
The physical and emotional effects on the victim are harrowing, the judge said, and will endure for the rest of her life. Paget had betrayed whatever trust she may have had in him and had shown “no regard for her dignity as a human being or that she was the mother of an expected child.”
His actions, the judge said, were from intoxication and a misplaced jealousy in that he falsely believed someone else to be the child’s father.
The main mitigating factor, Mr Justice McDermott said, is the guilty plea which saved Ms Ward from the “appalling trauma of having to relive these events in public”. The judge also noted Paget’s “genuine remorse”, admissions he made to gardaí, his significant drug and alcohol problems and violence he had witnessed as a child.
He imposed the suspended part of the sentence on the condition that Paget address the “two serious issues of violence and addiction”.
In a statement written by Ms Ward and read out at Paget’s sentencing hearing last week, the victim said: “All I ever wanted was my little girl, Ruby Rose. I’m only 32 and I don’t know how I’m going to face life with the effect this has had on me.”
Ruby Rose, Ms Ward said, was a “beautiful little girl and I know she will always be by my side”. She said she wanted Paget to “pay for everything that he has done,” and added: “I want him done for what he did to my little girl.”
At the sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Grainne Collier showed the court CCTV footage showing the assaults on Ms Ward as she and the accused walked along Dame Street towards their tent on Montague Lane in Dublin in the early hours of Sunday, April 25th, 2021.
Paget’s barrister Anne-Marie Lawlor SC described the footage as a “graphic illustration of heinous violence meted out by Mr Paget”. When the footage was shown to the court, Paget became agitated, stood up and asked for permission to leave. Mr Justice Paul McDermott allowed Paget to return to the cell area until the CCTV evidence was finished.
One man who was there to support the victim was escorted out of the court after he spoke up during graphic footage showing Paget repeatedly punching and kicking Ms Ward while she lay on the ground.
Det Gda Collier told Mr Costelloe that Paget and Ms Ward were of no fixed abode at the time and were abusing drugs. Ms Ward was a little more than 32 weeks pregnant when she went to the Rotunda hospital in Dublin in a “distraught condition” having been assaulted. She told hospital staff that her partner had assaulted her for a prolonged period of time. Gardaí began an investigation and uncovered a large amount of CCTV footage which was condensed into a 12-minute montage for the court.
In the first piece of footage, taken outside a pub on Dame Street, Paget can be heard asking Ms Ward “Is he your fella?” Gda Collier said this was a reference to another man who Paget had seen with Ms Ward. He then told Ms Ward that he wanted her to come to the tent where they were sleeping rough at that time.
The court then saw footage of the first assault during which Gda Collier said the accused could be heard saying, “Do you want the guards? I’m going to rip her out of you,” while he kicked her in the abdomen. The garda confirmed that this was a reference to their unborn daughter.
Paget could also be seen dragging Ms Ward along the ground by the hair at Dame Lane and punching her in the back of the head while she walked ahead of him. When they arrived at their tent on Montague Lane she could be seen getting in first followed by Paget who then assaulted her again by choking, suffocating and punching her.
At 10.30am the following morning, Gda Collier said Ms Ward left the tent “gingerly so she doesn’t wake up Dean Paget” before she ran off down the road.
In her statements to gardaí, Ms Ward described the various assaults at different locations and said that Paget told her he was going to kill her and, referencing their child, he said: “I’m going to rip her out of you.”
At one point audio from the CCTV footage picked up Paget calling the unborn child a “bastard”, suggesting someone else was the father and that he was going to kill Ms Ward and the child, the garda said.
Medical tests carried out at the Rotunda showed that there was no foetal heartbeat. Assistant State Pathologist Dr Heidi Okkers found that there had been a placental abruption that was likely to have been caused by the assault.
When gardaí first tried to speak to Paget he was outside the jurisdiction but when he returned he was arrested and interviewed. Gda Collier said Paget initially told gardaí that the account given by Ms Ward was “inaccurate or made up” and that she couldn’t be trusted. When gardaí showed him CCTV footage of the assaults, he told them he had a poor memory of what happened as he was under the influence of drugs at the time.
Paget’s 68 previous convictions include robbery, criminal damage, violent behaviour at a garda station, trespass, theft, misuse of drugs and entering a building with intent to commit an offence.
Ms Lawlor, for Paget, told the court that her client was a chronic drug user who, as a child, had witnessed routine assaults by his father on his mother. She said that while it will do nothing to reduce the impact on the victim, Paget had asked her to express his remorse for what he did. Ms Lawlor said that when Paget saw the CCTV footage of what he had done he gave a “genuine and spontaneous expression of remorse”.
Counsel said Paget left the court during the showing of the CCTV footage because he “cannot bear to recollect what he did. He doesn’t shy away from it, he accepts it and he entered a plea but what he did is a source of extraordinary regret to him.”
He had written an apology in which he said that he takes full responsibility and apologised to Ms Ward. “I know her hurt and pain is all my fault,” he said, and that nothing will change what he has done and he will accept whatever sentence the court hands down.
In her statement Ms Ward said that the emotional pain will live with her for the rest of her life. “I was looking forward to bringing my baby girl into this world but she never got a chance,” she said.
She said she doesn’t think she will ever trust a man again and doesn’t know how she is going to face life. “All the hope I have has been torn away. I feel like harming myself. I’m lucky that I have a good family behind me.” She said Paget knew what he was doing was wrong and should pay for what he did.