By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — A Groveland man who allegedly assaulted his girlfriend then locked himself inside his home with 43 handguns and rifles, was released on personal recognizance yesterday after a judge determined he was not a danger to society. But, 57-year-old Michael Sheedy was ordered not to return to his home until July 19 in order to give his 43-year-old girlfriend time to decide on whether to stay there with him or move out.
According to a prosecutor in the case, it wasn’t the first time Sheedy assaulted his girlfriend and that in the past he’d threatened coworkers, including one occasion when he allegedly told a coworker on the phone that he had a “red dot” aimed at his forehead, in reference to a laser scope of a gun. Sheedy is a hunter, his girlfriend said, and in April they went on a hunting trip to Alaska, where the woman is from.
Judge Stephen Abany extended a restraining order to July 19 and ordered Sheedy to stay away from the woman, although at the woman’s request he allowed them to communicate by phone.
Abany also ordered Sheedy to remain drug and alcohol free, submit to random screenings and report to probation. He told Sheedy that until his case is resolved he cannot have a firearms identification card or regain possession of his guns, which were confiscated by Groveland Police after they arrested him for assaulting his girlfriend on Sunday night. Abany said the evidence against Sheedy pointed to his being a “bully” who “drinks to excess.” Police said Sheedy was properly licensed to have guns and legally owned them.
“You may have to be weaned off of alcohol,” Abany told Sheedy just moments before releasing him.
At a hearing yesterday in Haverhill District Court, Assistant District Attorney Stephen Patten referred to Sheedy as a “batterer” and said he assaulted the woman on at least five other occasions, leaving bruises. Referring to new evidence he received from Groveland Police, Patten said Sheedy made violent and threatening remarks to coworkers at his former workplace. He said Sheedy acknowledged that he suffers from an “emotional depression” and that he engages in the “daily use of alcohol” while owning a large collection of guns.
“I have a red dot aimed at your forehead,” Patten told the court in reference to an alleged threat Sheedy had made to an employee in 2010 at his former workplace. “That witness was alarmed because he knows the defendant (Sheedy) has these firearms,” Patten said.
Patten said the witness called Sheedy “unpredictable” and said “you never know what mood he is going to be in when he reports for duty.”
Patten said the employer, a power plant company, provided police with documents regarding an internal workplace investigation that was conducted in October 2011 following allegations of workplace violence, or “threats of violence,” Patten said. Patten said five witnesses came forward as part of that investigation.
Patten said a second witness stated that he feared retaliation by Sheedy and that Sheedy “screams and barks at him.” Patten said the same witness stated that Sheedy enjoyed sneaking up behind him and startling him at work and that Sheedy enjoyed the behavior as it “reminded him of hunting.”
Patten said another witness stated that Sheedy yelled at subordinates and banged hammers and wrenches while yelling and violently screaming at them. Patten said other witnesses stated that Sheedy entered into violent tirades and displayed extreme mood swings.
“If that’s what he’s doing in the workplace it’s not a surprise at what the alleged victim states what happened inside the home,” Patten said.
Sheedy’s defense lawyer, Thomas Barrett of Salem, Mass., said Sheedy has a civil matter pending in superior court regarding his being wrongfully discharged from his job. He referred to the workplace witness statements as “hearsay” and asked they not be admitted as evidence in deciding dangerousness.
On Sunday at about 9:34 p.m., the Groveland Police Department received a 911 call from a woman outside of Sheedy’s 183 King St. home. Police said the woman, Sheedy’s girlfriend, reported being assaulted by Sheedy, who owns the home. When officers arrived, Sheedy was alone and locked inside the home with a cache of firearms.
The woman told Abany that Sheedy drinks alcohol every day, takes medication for depression and often gets angry when he drinks and will “shake her.” The woman said she’s known Sheedy for about a year and has been living with him at his home since March.
The woman told Abany that on Sunday night Sheedy was drinking and was blaring music, and that he became very angry after she turned down the music. She said Sheedy took her baseball cap and violently struck her face with it, resulting in swelling. Patten asked the woman about past incidents.
“How many times has he grabbed you by the arms and shaken you,” Patten asked the woman. “Maybe five times,” she responded.
“How many times has he left bruises on your arms,” Patten asked. “When he grabs me,” the woman responded.
The woman appeared to struggle with the decision of whether to have the restraining order extended saying she still loved and cared for Sheedy and didn’t want to keep him out of his own home. She said Sheedy had taken her cell phone away from her in the past so she could not contact anyone.
“I have nobody to talk to here,” the woman said in reference to not having any friends of family in this part of the country.
During yesterday’s more than 2-hour long hearing, Sheedy blinked his eyes constantly and alternated his gaze between the woman, the judge and to family members who were in the courtroom. He showed little outward emotion.
Barrett pointed out that Sheedy had no prior court record and said the current assault charges were based on his hitting the woman with her baseball cap. He called the incident a “domestic problem the two parties need to work out.”
Barrett called Sheedy’s guns a “red herring” that created a sense of “hysteria” surrounding his case. He said the guns had nothing to do with the alleged assault and that they were confiscated by police based on a restraining order issued by a judge on Sunday night.
“He may not be the most pleasant fellow in the world, but he is innocent until proven guilty,” Barrett said in requesting Sheedy be released on nomimal cash bail.
Abany pointed out that Sheedy was not being accused of improperly misusing his guns and said the evidence did not meet the high standards required to hold him as a danger to society. Abany issued Sheedy a 60 day warning, meaning if he gets in trouble with the law while his case is pending he could be held without bail for up to 60 days.
Sheedy must return to court July 19 for a pretrial hearing.