A mother-of-three left for dead and needing reconstructive surgery after an attack by her ex-soldier then-partner has spoken out about the horrifying abuse she suffered.
Jessica Bowes, from Clondalkin, Dublin, had every bone in her face broken days before Christmas 2015 by her children’s father Jonathan McSherry, 34.
He served 22 months of a three-and-a-half-year sentence after he breached a barring order, hid in Ms Bowes bushes and launched the attack after dragging her out of a taxi at her home and even attacking her friends and the driver, reports Evoke.ie.
Brave Ms Bowes waived her right to anonymity to speak out about the leniency of her ex-partner’s sentence, even appearing on Ireland’s most popular TV show, The Late Late show, and receiving a wave of support online for her strength.
Jessica Bowes with Jonathan McSherry, 34, in Dublin. He was jailed for the attack on her
Media outlets in both the UK and Ireland follow the convention that victims of domestic abuse can remain anonymous if granted so by a judge. However Ms Bowes waived hers and has now become a stringent campaigner.
Speaking on the show, she said: ‘I could feel this heat running down my face and I knew it was blood and I thought oh my God, I’m dying.’
Jessica waived her right to anonymity to speak out about her attack and shared this photo
Recalling the attack – which left her needing metal inserted to align her face – in West Dublin, on December 20, 2015, she said: ‘I returned home from a Christmas party and he was hiding in my garden.
‘He assaulted me so badly I needed to have reconstructive surgery on my face.’
She said she watched McSherry in court as he stared at the ceiling while CCTV footage of the attack was played.
She was shocked at the leniency of his sentence at told RSVP Live that she believes the violent thug should have been locked up for attempted murder.
Jessica Bowes, from Dublin, had every bone in her face broken by Jonathan McSherry
‘The judge handed down her sentence, and I just thought: ‘That’s it! He will be out in two years.’
‘I wanted to get my message out that the court system treats domestic violence cases with a greater leniency than random assaults, and that can’t continue!’
Her motivation for speaking out, Ms Bowes said, is her two young daughters.
Domestic violence laws in Ireland
At the start of 2019 Ireland expanded the legal definition of domestic abuse.
It now includes ‘coercive control,’ which includes emotional and psychological abuse.
The Domestic Violence Act 2018 went into effect in January and brought forth new protections for victims under both civil and criminal law.
The act defines ‘coercive control’ as a type of manipulation in intimidating relationships that strips away a person’s feeling of self-worth.
The new law has also introduced improvements to the handling of domestic abuse cases, including making protection order available to those in a relationship with their abuser, but not living together.
‘I’d like to think that some day, should they need to, they can rely on the legal system to protect them, and I hope they feel like they have the appropriate supports available to help them if the ever find themselves in a dangerous situation,’ she said.
Ms Bowes said the episode has actually made her stronger despite psychological evidence showing she had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic anxiety and nightmares.
She also said that she wants to go to university to study social sciences in order to help victims like her because she received no help, except from Women’s Aid, after discharging herself from hospital after the attack.
In a high court case earlier this month, Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon awarded Ms Bowes €150,000 in damages.
Tweeting in response to Jessica’s appearance on the show, Celeste McCreesh tweeted: ‘I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes already listening to her.’
Valerie Gaynor added: ‘Jessica you are a true survivor! It’s an honor to know you and to experience your bravery ! Well done girl.’
If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, call Women’s Aid on 0808 2000 247.