Limerick woman beaten and had acid thrown in her face during assault at home, court told

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Simone Lee in July 2018.

** Warning, graphic content

A woman sustained “inhumane injuries” and is “incredibly lucky to be alive” after she was assaulted, had acid thrown in her eyes, boiling water poured on her, and was falsely imprisoned in her home, between last Monday and Tuesday, a Detective Garda told a court this evening.

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Simone Lee, (41), was also beaten about the head with glass bottles, and left for dead in a fire at her home, at Fairview Crescent, Garryowen, gardai alleged.

Christopher Stokes, 37, with an address at Sarsfield Avenue, Garryowen, appeared before Limerick District Court, Wednesday, charged with one count of threatening to kill Ms Lee, assault causing her harm, and false imprisonment.

The charges, which Mr Stoke made no reply to when cautioned by gardai, are alleged to have occurred on May 11th.

Detective Garda Aled Harkin, Henry Street station, objected to bail and telling the court he believed Mr Stokes would not adhere to any bail conditions, and that he would pursue Ms Lee, intimidate her, and try to “finish what he set out to do”.

Detective Harkin said Ms Lee has alleged that during a visit to her home on Monday last Mr Stokes “became agitated” and said he wanted to go to Charleville in north Cork to rob goods from a local shopping centre so he could get cash.

Ms Lee, who reamins in a serious condition at University Hospital Limerick, had been expecting an elderly friend, Tim Fehin, (71), from Charleville, to come to her home for dinner that night.

It’s alleged Mr Stokes threatened to shoot Mr Fehin if he did not take the accused to Charleville after he had arrived at the house.

It’s alleged Mr Stokes punched Ms Lee in her face a number of times, kneed her into her body and kicked her while she lay on the ground.

Gardai said Mr Fehin told them he was “terrified” and so he drove Mr Stokes to Charleville and that Mr Stokes sat in the rear left passenger seat, sitting directly behind Ms Lee who sat in the left front passenger seat.

Throughout the journey Mr Stokes allegedly assaulted, choked, and struck Ms Lee numerous times with a glass bottle, Detective Harkin told the court.

Upon returning to Ms Lee’s house Mr Stokes “barricaded the front door and pushed Ms Lee to the ground and “subjected her to numerous physical assaults”, Det Gda Harkin said.

It’s alleged Mr Stokes punched Ms Lee several times in the face and poured boiling water on her back, causing her to go unconscious.

Detective Harkin told the court it is alleged Mr Stokes also poured “ammonia acid in her face three times”.

He said gardai found a bottle of ammonia acid in the house after.

He alleged Mr Stokes refused to allow Ms Lee go to the toilet and she “soiled herself”.

He further alleged Mr Stokes “placed a black plastic bag over Ms Lee’s head and tried to suffocate her”.

He alleged that Mr Stokes told Mr Fehin he was hoping to “chop up” Ms Lee and “bury her” on lands in Charleville owned by Mr Fehin.

The court heard Mr Fehin escaped from the house and left the area in his car before he telephoned gardai.

Detective Harkin said Mr Fehin made a telephone call to gardai stating there was noise coming from Ms Lee’s house, and the phone line went dead.

When gardai arrived at Ms Lee’s home they could not gain entry, and left the area.

Detective Harkin alleged that Ms Lee awoke later on “to find cardboard boxes on top of her and the apartment on fire, with flames everywhere”.

Ms Lee was rescued by local firefighters and taken by ambulance to hospital and Mr Stokes, who was found by firefighters inside the house, was arrested by gardai at the scene.

Detective Harkin said it was his belief that Mr Stokes started the fire.

He said Ms Lee sustained “burns to her back, lips, and windpipe” and she sustained “an internal bleed on her brain”.

He said an “extreme violence” was perpetrated on Ms Lee, including “the use of boiling water, and acid, and glass bottles”.

He said during interviews with gardai Mr Stokes denied the claims made against him by Ms Lee and Mr Fehin and that “her claimed her horrific injuries were self inflicted”.

Detective Harkin said gardai refute this “given the severe nature of the injuries”.

The accused’s solicitor, Sarah Ryan, said Mr Stokes has denied causing Ms Lee’s injuries and that he claimed “there was drug use in the apartment throughout the day”.

Mr Stokes is also charged with threatening to kill Mr Fehin, and with falsely imprisoning him in Ms Lee’s home on May 11th.

Judge Patricia Harney said she was refusing bail in light of “the nature and seriousness of the charges”.

She said she was “satisfied, given the alleged horrendous assault” that witnesses may be “interfered with”.

She said this “would represent a serious threat of danger to any person should he be released on bail”.

She said the charges against Mr Stokes were of the “upmost gravity” and she remanded him to Limerick Prison to re-appear before Limerick District Court again via video link, on May 18th.