MANCHESTER — A Manchester-by-the-Sea man charged with beating his wife and then threatening a police officer back on Christmas Day 2011 was given a sentence yesterday that a Salem District Court judge acknowledged was fashioned to let him avoid deportation to Ireland.
The most serious of the assault and battery charges against Paschal Corrigan, 52, formerly of 6 Smith Lane, were generally continued, and one of them filed without a sentence, so that Corrigan won’t face deportation, an arrangement that his estranged wife Margaret blasted yesterday during a victim-impact statement to the judge.
Margaret Corrigan complained that her husband, who filed for divorce weeks after his arrest, was manipulating the courts in order to remain in the United States. She said she believes Paschal Corrigan should serve a year in jail.
Instead, he will be on three years of supervised probation.
“This is, quite frankly, a very unusual case,” said Judge Michael Lauranzano during the hearing yesterday afternoon. “This is a disposition that under most circumstances I would never accept.”
But it was the circumstances that the Corrigans and their children now find themselves in that moved the judge to grant general continuances on the two most serious charges pending against Paschal.
The problem, suggested the judge, was the possibility that Margaret Corrigan could be sentenced to prison in her own pending fraud case in federal court.
“The biggest concern (of both the prosecutor and the defense attorney) was with the two children,” said the judge.
Margaret Corrigan is currently awaiting trial on those fraud charges, stemming from her operation of a travel agency, a fact that Paschal Corrigan’s attorneys had planned to try to introduce at trial and one that could have forced her to invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to testify and possibly incriminate herself, they argued in court papers.
But Margaret Corrigan yesterday was adamant that she was prepared to take the stand against her husband.
“I am willing to testify in this case,” Margaret Corrigan told Lauranzano.
She went on to describe the lasting physical and emotional pain she says she suffers as a result of the Christmas Day incident, which left her with nerve damage and pain in her head and back.
Manchester police were on patrol just before 5 p.m. on Christmas Day when they saw a girl running down the street, then spotted Margaret Corrigan and her other child walking farther down the road.
Margaret Corrigan had a large bruise on the side of her face and appeared visibly upset, according to a police report. She initially claimed that she had fallen, but her son urged her to tell police what actually happened.
She told police that as they were returning home, Paschal Corrigan repeatedly punched her in the face and slammed her head off the dashboard, then dragged her from the car by her hair and punched her in the ribs.
Margaret Corrigan was taken to Beverly Hospital.
Meanwhile, police received a 911 call from Paschal Corrigan, who said his wife, who was with police at that point, was home with him and “out of control.”
When officers arrived, according to prosecutors, Paschal Corrigan grabbed a knife and refused to drop it until after police drew their service weapons.
He went on to make threats to Patrolman Chris Locke, telling him, “I’ll (expletive) kill you,” and “I’ll take you to hell with me.” He later tried to head-butt another officer at the station, according to the police report.
Prosecutor Michelle DeCourcey, who was urging a six-month jail term on one lesser charge, of threats, which would not trigger deportation proceedings, acknowledged that Margaret Corrigan was not pleased with her recommendation, but said the district attorney’s office was faced with the reality of forcing two children to testify against their father.
She said she hoped that a resolution of the case short of trial would help the family to “move on” from what happened.
Margaret Corrigan insisted that her children were prepared to testify against their father, saying that they have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and now fear their father.
Paschal Corrigan’s lawyer, David Losier, however, pointed to Margaret Corrigan’s earlier testimony during her husband’s “dangerousness hearing” last year, in which she blamed her husband’s violence on drinking and said he was not usually violent.
He included a transcript of that hearing last year, in which Margaret Corrigan told a judge “I don’t believe that Paschal would ever harm my children, our children.”
“A lot of things have changed since Mr. Corrigan filed for divorce,” said Losier, of the Boston law firm Burns and Levinson, which Paschal Corrigan hired late last year.
Lauranzano agreed to go along with the defense lawyer’s request, under which Paschal Corrigan was found guilty and received three years of supervised probation on charges of assault and threats, toward the officers. He was also found guilty of a charge of aggravated assault, but that was filed for 30 days, and will eventually be dropped. Charges of assault and battery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon were generally continued for three years, after which they too will be dismissed.
Corrigan will be required to undergo a mental health evaluation and treatment and random drug and alcohol tests, and must obey a restraining order.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.