St. John’s man sentenced for assaulting two women

Striking brewery workers intervened when he was seen attacking girlfriend

Rosie Mullaley
Published on January 14, 2014
Paul Joseph Morrissey is seen in Provincial Court in St. John's this morning. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

When Paul Joseph Morrissey was seen shoving and spitting on his girlfriend in the middle of a downtown street last fall, bystanders were quick to intervene.

Thanks to a group of striking Labatt workers, the woman was saved from further abuse and Morrissey ended up in jail. On Tuesday in provincial court in St. John’s, the 34-year-old was given an eight-month prison term with two years’ probation during his sentencing hearing. With 1.5 times credit given for the 90 days he’s already been behind bars, Morrissey has just over three months left on his term. He’s been in custody since the incident, which happened Oct. 17 last year on McKay Street in the capital city. According to the facts of the case that were read in court, at around 1:30 p.m. that day, Morrissey had discovered a note that had indicated his girlfriend — the mother of his child — was a prostitute. In a fit of anger, Morrissey confronted the woman, pushed her and held her face against a pillow on the bed by kneeling on her neck. Another woman who was in the house ran into the room and tried to get between the two. In doing so, she suffered an injury to her hand when Morrissey swung an end table in the direction of his girlfriend, striking the other woman. The second woman also hit her head on the door frame when Morrissey pushed her. When the women left the house, Morrissey followed. Several witnesses, including a neighbour, saw him push his girlfriend against a house and spit on her. That prompted the strikers to run to the woman’s defence, keeping him away until police arrived. The girlfriend, who told police she blacked out after she was thrown against the house, suffered lacerations to her head and bruising on her neck. Morrissey was then seen walking in and out of the house with a beer bottle and a knife. He pleaded guilty to four charges — two counts of assault causing bodily harm and possessing a weapon dangerous to the public. When Morrissey addressed the court, he apologized, especially for what he had done to his son’s mother, now his former girlfriend. A lot of this was blown out of proportion, but I take full responsibility,” he said, adding his behaviour was the result of a drinking problem, which he said he’s getting help for. The one I’m hurting the most is my son,” he said. “He shouldn’t have to go through this.” Crown prosecutor Glynne Faulkner had suggested a nine-month jail sentence with three years’ probation, and straight-time pre-custody credit. She pointed to Morrissey’s prior criminal record, which includes convictions for violent acts like assault with a weapon, uttering threats, resisting arrest and possessing a dangerous weapon. Defence lawyer Philip Warren had recommended a six-month prison term, with 1.5 times pre-trial credit. He said Morrissey is attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and wants to get his life back on track. In coming to his decision on sentencing, Judge Mike Madden said the fact that one of the assaults was on his partner was an aggravating factor. He said Morrissey’s past behaviour also indicates he is not getting the message. Nobody should be sentenced for past offences,” the judge said, “but unless steps are taken, future events will evolve, possibly even (into) killing someone.” As part of Morrissey’s probation, he is to have no contact with the two victims, except to make arrangements to see his child with his former girlfriend. Twitter: TelyCourt


(Earlier story)

Striking Labatt workers credited for stopping assault on St. John's woman

Striking Labatt workers played a big role in stopping an irate man who was assaulting a woman last fall.

The man, Paul Joseph Morrissey, 34, had chased his girlfriend out of a house on McKay Street in the downtown area of St. John's and was seen shoving her against the house and spitting on her. Morrissey was also seen with a beer bottle and a knife.

The incident happened at around 1:30 pm on Oct. 17 of last year.

When Morrissey was sentenced today in provincial court in St. John's, the court heard that the striking employees interceded and came to the woman's assistance, keeping the man away from the woman until police arrived.

Morrissey had assaulted the woman, his girlfriend and mother of his child, as well as another woman, who was trying to break up the altercation, inside the house before they came outside.

Morrissey's girlfriend suffered a cut on her head from being thrown against the house and marks to her neck from when he had pushed her into a pillow and kneeled on her neck. The other woman suffered a swollen hand when Morrissey struck her with an end table, which he had swung in the direction of the first woman.

Morrissey pleaded guilty to two counts each of assault causing bodily harm and possessing a weapon dangerous to the public.

He was sentenced to eight months in jail, with two years' probation. With 1.5 times credit given for the 90 days he's already spent in custody, it leaves 3 1/2 months left on his term.

As part of Morrissey's probation, Judge Mike Madden told him to have no contact with the two women, except with to make arrangements to see his child with the woman who was his girlfriend.