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Child’s welfare in jeopardy, says judge, due to ‘vile’ behaviour of couple forced to live together 
A husband installed a secret “spy camera” at the kitchen table at home after his estranged wife “completely sabotaged every meal I had”. 
At the Family Law Court, the man said that he was “at the end of my tether” after his former partner at one stage put coins from their daughter’s piggy bank into his pasta and on other days threw rubbish onto his food and threw his “settling” steak on the floor. 
The man said that he also installed the camera “to protect myself” after his wife continued to rip his headphones off his head at meal-times and other times. 
The man installed the secret camera last December but it was removed by his estranged wife after she spotted it one week later. 
The couple separated a number of years ago and the woman moved out of the marital home. 
However, the woman moved back last year due to economic circumstances when neither party was able to buy each other’s share of the home due to the impact of Covid-19. 
The estranged couple were seeking barring and safety orders against each other having already obtained temporary protection orders in the District Court last September. 
After hearing evidence from both sides of flashpoints at home, Judge Mary Larkin said she was “absolutely satisfied that he has been vile and she has been vile”. 
“This is not domestic violence. This is a breakdown of a marriage and this is conduct unbecoming to both parents of a small child.” 
The judge said the couple “are both behaving in an extraordinarily unpleasant fashion because they haven’t managed to separate”. 
She said: “They have been saying nasty things to each other and they shouldn’t be living together in the same house.” 
“They are cursing and shouting and pushing and shoving each other. It is really an appalling vista.” 
She said she was making an order to call in Tusla, the child and family agency, to carry out a report on the detrimental impact the couple’s break-up was having on their daughter. 
“The welfare of this poor, unfortunate child is certainly in jeopardy due to the conduct of both parties.” 
She ordered that the protection orders would continue for one more year. 
The father, represented by solicitor, William Cahir, told the judge that he now listens to headphones in the house after being told by a garda after securing the protection order to only communicate with his estranged wife through text message. 
He said: “I listen to Marcus Auerilis and Buddhist meditation on the headphones to try to get through this and keep myself calm.” 
The man said that at one stage, “I lay down in front of her car as a peaceful protest to try to get her re-enter mediation but she was not interested in doing so. I thought I was being Gandhi – obviously not.” 
He said that he lay on the driveway for a minute and a half as his former partner was leaving for the school run. 
The woman, represented by solicitor, Shiofra Hassett, said he was wearing the headphones in the home to aggravate her in order “to set me up with his spy camera in the kitchen”. 
The woman said that she would remove the headphones from the man’s head “because he was refusing to communicate about parenting and not replying to text messages”. 
After stills from the camera were shown in court of the woman removing the headphones from her husband’s head, the judge said: “You think it is okay to whip the headphones off his head? That is an assault. You can’t do that.” 
The woman said that she did speak to a mediator but the mediator told her “that we were past mediation”. 
Asked by the judge what that meant, the woman replied “that it has gone bad”. 
The woman admitted to putting coins in the pasta but did not recall throwing the steak on the floor. 
On videoing her ex-partner in the home, the woman said: “I videoed him because it was the only thing that would stop him putting his hands on me”. 
She said: “I had to buy a new lock for the bedroom door so I could lock myself in the bedroom.” 
The woman said in 2020: “I was bullied out of my own home – I couldn’t take the behaviour any more. I didn’t know I could get a protection order at the time.” 
The man told the court that from the time of his former partner moving back into the home last summer to the granting of the protection order against him in September “I am ashamed of the way I was reacting. The way I spoke to her. We were arguing. I was extremely frustrated. 
“I think I can be friends with her again when we get over all of this because it is just horrible . . . The way things have gone is horrendous for all of us. 
“We are both as bad as each other and it is shameful.” 
The judge adjourned the case to October and told the two that they will have to learn to live together or alternatively, divide up their living quarters. 
She said they should go back to mediation to decide how you manage pick-ups and drops off without videoing and recording each other. 
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