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‘I hid it because of his job’: Wife of ex-garda was ‘extremely intimidated’ by his position as he abused her

Meav Doyle says husband’s job was one of reasons she ‘hid’ 11-year campaign of violence for so long

Former garda Mark Doyle’s status as a member of the force was “extremely intimidating” for his family during the 11-year period he subjected them to a reign of domestic violence, his wife has said.

Meav Doyle, who is in the process of divorcing her husband, explained when one of her children tried to disclose the violence in their home a meeting was called at the school. However, Doyle then used his status as a garda - including his uniform and a Garda car - to “quash” her son’s efforts to raise the alarm.

“It was extremely intimidating,” she said of her husband’s job. “It was always hanging over us; the children, and myself knew that all the time. He was a well-liked person in the community and everyone knew he was a guard.

“When one of my children tried to disclose (in school), he arrived at the school in a Garda car, Garda uniform, and passed it off as teenage exaggeration. An authority figure doing that; it holds weight. It hasn’t been easy. It took me a long time (to come forward). I hid it because of his job and because of the shame of domestic violence.”

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Doyle (38) was sentenced to six years imprisonment by Judge Martin Nolan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Friday. Passing sentence, Judge Nolan said the violence and oppression meted out by Doyle were “reprehensible”.

Last October, Doyle pleaded guilty to four charges of assault causing harm against Ms Doyle on dates between May 8th, 2010, and August 28th, 2019. He further pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to a male on September 3rd, 2017 and assault causing harm to a second male on unknown dates between 2008 and 2009. Both of those young male victims are sons of Ms Doyle’s from a previous relationship.

Doyle, originally from Carlow, is a former member of the Defence Forces, who joined the Garda in 2009, two years after meeting Ms Doyle. They married in 2012 and had two children together. Much of the violence in the family home in Celbridge, Co Kildare, was perpetrated in front of the four children.

It involved Ms Doyle being choked, punched and kicked and being “led around” the hallway of their home by the hair “like she was a dog”. In 2019, Ms Doyle secured a barring order against her husband, sought help from Women’s Aid and also made a formal complaint to the Garda in spring 2020.

Doyle, who was based at Ronanstown Garda station in west Dublin, was suspended from duty while under investigation by the Garda’s National Protective Services Bureau, under Det Insp Adrian Kinsella. Doyle only resigned from the Garda last October, just before pleading guilty on the day his trial was due to start.

Speaking after the sentencing on Friday, Ms Doyle said she was content with the sentence. “I think Judge Nolan was fair,” she said.

“At the end of the day, this whole thing is extremely sad and there’s no winners here today, that’s how I feel,” she said, adding when she first reported the abuse to the Garda in 2020 she was a “totally different person” to the one she is now.

The gardaí she dealt with “led me through the process and were extremely supportive”.

Meav Doyle also said she wanted to “reach out to anyone who is living in an abusive relationship to seek help and support”.

“You are not alone”, she said.

Doyle is likely to serve his sentence in a section of the Midlands Prison reserved for high risk prisoners including former gardai and prison officers.

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