Mother opens up on horrific domestic violence at hands of former Fair City actor

Mother opens up on horrific domestic violence at hands of former Fair City actor

A survivor of domestic violence at the hands of a former Fair City actor has opened up on the trauma of enduring an abusive relationship only to sit through 16 distressing court hearings in order to bring her attacker to justice.

Sarah Behan is set to talk about the horrific ordeal on a special episode of RTÉ Investigates Domestic Abuse, A Year Of Crisis this Monday.

On Sept 18th 2016, Sarah Behan was assaulted by her then partner Patrick Fitzpatrick, who was an actor in RTÉ’s Fair City playing the character Zumo from 2007 to 2016.

However, this attack was the culmination of years of abuse Sarah had endured by her then partner.


"I thought he was the best thing since sliced bread, there was nobody like him", she said.

"I had never been with anyone like him. He was obviously a fantastic actor, but he acted in real life as well. It started with romanticising and love bombing, treating me like a princess."

Patrick had confided in Sarah that he had abused women in previous relationships, however, Sarah was confident she could "fix him."

Sarah describes Patrick's personality as a "lightswitch". Their relationship soon took a dark turn, with incidents of domestic abuse becoming more frequent and violent.


"It got worse, worse and worse. It was regular, all I did was curl up into a ball, I didn’t have any fight left in me. He’d broken me down so much; I had no fight left.”

However, one two-hour-long attack proved to be Sarah's lowest point.

"I got beaten badly", she said. He pulled me back from the window, by the hair, and dragged me, and tried to strangle me for what felt like an eternity and I could see the room closing in."

Sarah continued: "There was a window I was contemplating jumping out, possibly breaking my two legs and pelvis. I wasn’t sure how I would do it, I was just thinking survival mode. Flight or fight. A choice, will I just jump … then I was pulled back."


Sarah bravely decided to press charges, but a protracted court procedure resurfaced traumatic memories.

“It was trauma relieved over and over, and over again. It was constant, that I could not put it to rest, I could not move on.

Sarah’s mother Antoinette attended all of the remand hearings. “It was just put off put off put off, held back, and pushed back, for two years, repeatedly, for two years 4 months to be precise. We were told that their defence was not ready, and that is why the cases were pushed back.”

At one point during the hearing, the judge read aloud the medical report which read that Sarah had clumps of hair missing, and bruises on her face, and jaws.

The assault charge against Patrick Fitzpatrick, for which he pleaded guilty, was remanded before the courts 14 times, followed by a further two appeal hearings.

A year before his attack on Sarah Behan, Fitzpatrick assaulted a previous partner at his home in Ballymun in 2015, punching her twice in the jaw. That assault was finally dealt with in May 2018 when he received a 12-month probation bond. The following January, the remainder of a sentence for the assault on Sarah was suspended.

It meant he served just two days in prison for that assault, a devastating ruling that made Sarah feel “let down by the system.”

I could not protect her", said Sarah's mother. "So, no matter how old your baby is, it’s tough. The psychological impacts are lifelong. She is a different girl to what she was before.”

If you or you know of someone who is suffering at the hands of domestic violence, visit to find help

Image: Patrick Fitzpatrick (far left) playing Zumo in Fair City