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Man (63) jailed for nine years after stabbing partner when she said she wanted to leave

The Cork man had pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of his partner last year.

Image: Shutterstock/David Z Cheng

A 63-YEAR-OLD man who apologised “sincerely and unconditionally” to his former partner for repeatedly stabbing her at their home after she said she planned to leave, has been jailed for nine years at the Central Criminal Court.

Patrick O’Rourke of Cooline Drive, Ballyvoloon, Cobh, Co Cork pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Donna Foster at Cooline Drive on 11 August 2015.

He also pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to a minor at the same address on the same date.

Today at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy imposed a nine-year sentence on O’Rourke and backdated it to when he went into custody. He also sentenced O’Rourke to three-and-a-half years for the charge of assault causing harm on the minor, to run concurrently.

Before handing down sentence today Mr Justice McCarthy said it was clear that this was “an extremely serious attack” by O’Rourke on his former partner.

“They were still living together and had been together for 15 years,” he said.

The judge said there was no evidence of violence during their relationship but arguments arose as their relationship came to an end.

“Ms Foster was entitled to bring that relationship to an end and any possible adverse reaction by her partner must be regarded as beyond comprehension,” he said.

Mr Justice McCarthy said Foster suffered a number of serious wounds when the accused stabbed her with a boning knife and she was “obviously extremely fearful and distressed”.

The judge referred to Dr Emmet Andrew’s medical report where he outlined that Ms Foster had received “two particularly serious lacerations” and it was miraculous that she was not injured more severely.

“The evidence is that Ms Foster has found it very difficult to return to work and she was self-employed. Undoubtedly apart from the financial difficulties which this has caused it has no doubt had an impact on her sense of well being,” said the judge.

The judge also referred to the minor who was in the house at the time and witnessed “the horrific event” which caused “grave distress” on their part.

Referring to Donna Foster’s victim impact statement, Mr Justice McCarthy said the ordeal has been emotionally draining and psychologically traumatic on her.

She truly and honestly believed she was going to die. She states she is grateful for having survived and now has a different perspective on life.

The court heard that it was accepted in evidence that the accused was described by gardaí as “very cooperative” and he had difficulty coming to terms with what he had done but claimed responsibility for the attack.

The judge said that while the evidence against O’Rourke is “very strong”, he has been described as contributing positively to prison and is a well-behaved prisoner.

“On the evidence he seems to be a person who was a valuable member of the community,” he said.

Mr Justice McCarthy said it was still a mitigating factor that O’Rourke pleaded guilty at the very end of the legal process.

The appropriate starting point for this crime was “in or around 12 years” but sentencing was a subjective process, the court heard.

“He is nearing 65 years of age which is a significant sentencing factor,” he said.

The judge said he had taken into account O’Rourke’s previous good character, his age as well as behaving well in prison.

“The principal mitigating factors are the guilty plea, his cooperation and his remorse. The remorse is in good faith and he read out an apology from the witness box,” he said.

Speaking outside the Central Criminal Court today, Ms Foster said she was pleased with the sentence and was happy it was over with. She also agreed she got justice.

“I’m just happy it is all over and now myself and the girls can just draw a line under it and move on with our lives. I’m feeling OK. I had a make-up artistry business and that’s gone as I now can’t do the work I was doing with the injuries I have.”

“Horrific attack”

As a result of the “horrific” attack, Donna Foster’s airways were exposed in her neck and she had injuries to her upper abdomen through which her small intestine was visible.

She told gardaí that O’Rourke “never stopped stabbing her” and she felt that she was going to die.

Giving her victim impact statement, Donna Foster said she was left with physical, emotional and psychological scars by the “continuous, vicious and frenzied attack” by her former partner after she told him she planned to leave.

Delivering her statement, Foster said she needed time to heal from the “atrocity” inflicted on her by O’Rourke.

She added:

I sustained serious stab wounds from a continuous, vicious and frenzied attack which left me fighting for my life, as I truly and honestly believe I was about to die.

She said that if it were not for the intervention of the minor who was also injured in the assault, she would not be here today.

“For me, I now have a different perspective on life. I realise that life is precious and fragile,” she said.

She said she finds it hard to believe that a man she trusted “would subject me to the most horrific attack in an attempt to kill me.”

Taking the stand last month O’Rourke wished his former partner “health, happiness and success in her life” and said that their years together were the “happiest” of his life.

Detective Garda Bill Dillane of Cobh Garda Station previously told the court that the relationship between O’Rourke and Foster had broken down prior to the attack but there had been no previous violence.

Speaking to Brendan Grehan SC, representing O’Rourke, Detective Garda Dillane said Donna Foster and O’Rourke had been together about 15 years. Two weeks before the attack Foster said she no longer wanted to be with him and planned to leave.

Detective Garda Dillane agreed that O’Rourke had given a statement to gardaí in which he described confronting Foster about her plans to leave on the morning of the attack before fetching the knife he used to stab her repeatedly.

Read: Garda gets €250k damages after being forced to retire early due to ‘vicious’ pub assault>

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Alison O'Riordan

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