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'If I closed my eyes, I knew I wouldn't open them': stab victim tells court of guilt over relationship with attacker

The creche worker said she had to give up her flat because she could not return to the scene of the attack.

Image: William Murphy via Flickr

A 51-YEAR-OLD woman who was the victim of a “vicious” knife attack from a man she was in a relationship with 15 years prior has said that she has to live with the “guilt” of bringing this man into her life and every day she asks herself how could she “have been such a bad judge of character.”

Denis Leahy, 50, of Queen Street, Dublin 7 was charged with attempting to murder Rose Kenny at School Street Flats, Dublin 8 on 23 September, 2014.

On June 22 at the Central Criminal Court, Leahy pleaded guilty to the charge.

Leahy had previously pleaded guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Ms Kenny at the same address on the same date.

‘I tried to be a good mother’ 

This morning Ms Kenny took the stand and read her victim impact statement to the court.

The court heard that on the morning of 23 September she was a “normal 49-year-old woman living a normal existence” before she was viciously attacked by Denis Leahy, a man that she had shared “many years” with as her partner.

Ms Kenny was going to work in a local resource centre where she worked in a creche. She left her flat at 7.50am that morning and came down the stairs where she saw a man reading a newspaper at the end of the stairs.

Leahy then began a “vicious” knife attack on Ms Kenny.

Today Ms Kenny read:

I have to live with the guilt I feel of how I brought this man into my life. How could I have known that he was capable of doing such gruesome things to another human being. Every day I ask myself how could I have been such a bad judge of character.

The court heard that her “horrendous injuries” included three stab wounds to her neck and three stab wounds to her chest.

Ms Kenny had to undergo twelve hours of surgery at St James Hospital following the attack and was in hospital for seven weeks.

“My back, abdomen, chest and neck are destroyed with stab wounds but these can be hidden. But what I can’t hide is my horrible gravelly voice,” she said.

The court heard that after the attack her sister came running out of her home to find her “bleeding profusely on the ground.” A few minutes after that her daughter Jamie was on the scene.

‘I knew if I closed my eyes I would never open them again’ 

Ms Kenny never lost consciousness throughout the attack until she got to the hospital.

“I knew if I closed my eyes I would never open them again and I had to stay alive to look out for my Jamie, although now that role has been reversed,” she read.

Since the attack Ms Kenny has returned to live with her 80-year-old mother who also dressed her wounds upon her release from hospital.

“I wish Denis Leahy could have seen the pain in her eyes while she was doing that,” she read.

“I just feel so broken. I don’t trust the world in the same way that I always had. I’m always in a state of anxiety for both myself and my family. I fight these feelings every day but some days I just want to curl up and stay in bed.”

“After trying his best to murder me and leaving me so damaged he still has shown no remorse for what he did,” she concluded.
Circumstances  

Mr Patrick Marrinan SC, prosecuting, told the court that Denis Leahy had pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Rose Kenny after the case had opened to the jury on 22 June.

Mr Marrinan then called Detective Inspector Sean Campbell to take the stand.

The court heard that Ms Kenny was 49-years-old at the time of the attack and was living at School Street Flats in Dublin 8.

Det Insp Campbell agreed with the barrister that Ms Kenny was a single woman and had an 18-year-old daughter.

Ms Kenny worked in the local creche at School Street and had been in a relationship with the accused for approximately five years in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“According to Rose Kenny her relationship with the accused man was like any other and had its ups and downs but it had ended amicably,” said Mr Marrinan.

No contact for three years 

Their relationship ended at a wedding in Rome after there had been an argument.

Counsel told the court that Ms Kenny had maintained some contact with Denis Leahy’s family after the split as well as being in contact with her former partner for a number of years.

Mr Marrinan explained that it was not until after they split up that Denis Leahy had travelled to Thailand and resided there.

“She had no contact with the accused man for six years prior to the offence on 23 September, 2013,” he said.

On that day Ms Kenny left her flat at 7.50am and went to work in a crèche.

The court heard she made a call to her friend as she was walking down the stairs of the complex and left a voicemail for her.

As Ms Kenny reached the bottom of the stairs she saw a man reading a newspaper and said ‘good morning’ to him so he would move out of the way as he was blocking her path.

“This man who she didn’t recognise throughout the assault was Denis Leahy,” he said.

Mr Marrinan told the court: “He said to her that she had called the cops on him and he started to stab her repeatedly around the neck and body.” 

The court heard she had superficial lacerations to her left arm, a deep laceration to her left forearm and three stab wounds to her neck.

She also had three stab wounds to her chest including one stab wound which collapsed her lung.

The court heard she recovered well from her neck injuries but these were “extremely deep and life threatening injuries.” 

Mr Leahy was then taken to Kevin Street Garda Station and during the course of his detention there he was interviewed on a number of occasions by gardai.

“The net effect of what he had to say was that he been in a relationship with Rose Kenny some ten years prior to this attack but he had left and gone to Thailand where he had lived. He had been in contact with Rose Kenny via email until seven years prior to the offence,” said Mr Marrinan.

Basis for the attack 

The court heard that four months before the attack Mr Leahy had returned to Ireland and had been told by someone that Rose Kenny had informed gardai that drugs were in his house.

“He says this was the reason why he left Ireland for Thailand and he had suffered some financial problems. He indicated he discovered this four months beforehand and decided to get revenge against Rose Kenny. That is the sole basis that he indicated to gardai why he carried out the attack,” said counsel.

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The court heard Denis Leahy did not take drink or drugs.

“He had been there on the day prior to this (a Monday) to carry out the act. However he hadn’t seen Rose Kenny and so he went back the following day armed with a knife,” said the barrister.

The court heard that there was “no indication” from gardai that Rose Kenny had informed gardai about drugs being in his house “in any way.”

“He didn’t express remorse during the course of being interviewed for what he had done. He was charged with attempted murder subsequently and a trial date for the case was fixed. The case was opened by the prosecution and he then pleaded guilty to count 1. He had pleaded guilty to count 2 on the indictment which was assault causing harm,” said Mr Marrinan.

One previous conviction 

The court heard that Denis Leahy was 48 years of age at the time of the offence and had worked previously as a taxi driver, security guard and was in the army before he left Ireland for Thailand.

The accused had one previous conviction in 1990 for a public order offence for which he received a fine.

Mr Marrinan then read a report from a counsellor called Philip Burke who Rose Kenny had attended in 2015.  In his opinion she was suffering from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder following the attack.

The court heard that Rose Kenny presented herself to the counsellor with severe anxiety and explained that her ex-partner had “savagely attacked” her and then “left her for dead.”

The report which was read to the court today said: “Rose Kenny is unable to return to where the attack took place and she no longer feels safe when she is not indoors. She is currently unemployed and has lost her desire to return to work as a result of the attack. She is prone to outbursts of anger and irritability and fears random attack from strangers in the street. When she is required to venture outdoors she rushes everywhere.”

Handed himself in 

Defence counsel Mr Sean Gillane SC told the court that it was of “material significance” that his client had presented himself in Mountjoy Garda Station on the morning of the attack.

“At this stage the injured party was unaware who had attacked her,” he said.

The court heard that the accused “accepted unreservedly” in the course of his detention that he had carried out the attack.

Mr Gillane told the court that his client is from the Mountjoy Street area of Dublin and he had left school at 14 years of age but had a “serious capacity for work.”

The court heard he has been in custody since his arrest in September 2014.

His barrister asked the court to take into account his guilty plea which came on the day that the case opened and meant that Rose Kenny did not have to give evidence in the trial.

“It ought to be said that his guilty plea is a public acknowledgement of responsibility for what happened to Ms Kenny. He has asked me to express his sorrow for what he visited on her,” he said.

Mr Gillane told the court that his client is at a juncture in his life where the sentence that will be imposed on him “is of significance.”

He also asked that his client be treated as leniently as possible and as someone who “effectively had no previous convictions.”

Mr Justice Paul Butler then told the court he had to consider the materials before him and he would hand down sentence next Thursday morning.

- First published 

Read: Crèche worker in critical condition after being stabbed in stairwell of flat complex>

About the author:

Alison O'Riordan

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