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Woman who stabbed boyfriend to death guilty of manslaughter

The couple had been drinking before she killed him.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

A ZIMBABWEAN WOMAN has been found guilty of manslaughter for stabbing her boyfriend during a drunken row.

Norma Phillips (46), with an address on the Phibsboro Road, Phibsboro, Dublin 7 had pleaded not guilty to the murder of 36-year-old Romanian national Stefan Neanu at her former home in Phibsboro on 12 April 2015.

The jury of seven women and four men took seven hours to come to a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter. The jury had been told by Justice Margaret Heneghan that if they believed she acted in self defence during the row with Neanu, but that she used more force than was reasonably necessary, they should return a manslaughter verdict.

Following the verdict Justice Heneghan thanked the jury and excused them from further service for ten years.

Detective Garda Martin McInerney objected to bail saying that Phillips had been convicted of a serious crime, but he accepted that she had met all her bail conditions to date.

Justice Heneghan granted Phillips continuing bail until a sentencing hearing on 13 February. Prosecuting counsel Denis Vaughan Buckley said that the victim’s family would make a statement on that date.

During four days of evidence, the jury heard that Phillips called the emergency services that Saturday night saying there had been a stabbing and repeating several times “someone stabbed him”.

‘No guards, just ambulance’

When ambulance, fire brigade and gardaí arrived, she told them that a man had run into her home stabbed Neanu and then run off. At first she was reluctant to allow gardaí to enter, telling them: “no guards, just ambulance”.

At Mountjoy garda station, when she was told Neanu had died, Phillips changed her story. She gave a voluntary statement saying that Neanu pulled a knife on her and she thought he was going to harm her.

They had been drinking and an argument broke out but she could not remember what they argued about. As he waved the knife at her, she said she pushed his hand away in self defence, turning the blade towards him and causing the fatal wound.

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy said the wound, a single stab wound to the heart, could have been caused in the way Phillips described, adding that Mr Neanu would have to have held a “firm” grip on the knife as it was pushed with “some moderate force” into his chest.

After hearing all the evidence, Justice Heneghan told the jury that the accused’s claim of self defence meant there were three possible verdicts available to them.

They could find her guilty of murder if the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that she was not acting in self defence and that she intended to kill or cause serious injury to Neanu.

The manslaughter verdict could be reached if they believed she was acting in self defence, but the force she used was not reasonable in the circumstances.
She said they should bring a verdict of not guilty if she acted in self defence and used reasonable force.

Following the verdict, Phillips sighed and shed some tears before leaving the court. She will return for sentencing on 13 February.

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Eoin Reynolds

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