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Woman who may be pregnant jailed for stabbing 77-year-old friend

Kyles Pub in Coolock
Kyles Pub in Coolock

A woman who may be pregnant has been jailed for seven and a half years for stabbing her 77-year-old friend three times in the neck and chest.

Linda Nugent (43) claimed she stabbed the now deceased victim because he had asked her to be his girlfriend.

Judge Martin Nolan said that “what Ms Nugent did on that night to this old man was unforgiveable” and noted the offence carries a maximum of life imprisonment.

He said he was taking into account medical reports which suggest that Nugent is pregnant and that she may have to give birth in prison

The victim, Desmond Garland, had been living a very independent life up until the night Nugent attacked him. He never returned to his home after the attack and died last December in a nursing home from an unrelated illness.

He had a heart attack immediately after the stabbing on the way to the hospital and further heart attacks when he underwent emergency surgery to close the stab wounds, one of which was to the bottom of his chin and went up into the floor of his mouth.

He spent 28 days in intensive care in Beaumont Hospital and a further six months on a ward  before his family made the “hardest decision” to move him to a nursing home where he could get the 24 hour medical care he needed.

Mr Garland died last December from cancer. The court heard that he never fully recovered mentally from the assault and his quality of life was hugely affected.

Nugent, of Seagrange Avenue, Baldoyle, Dublin pleaded guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing Mr Garland serious harm at his home in Lismeen Grove, Beechpark Avenue, Coolock on September 14, 2013.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard she has a mild learning disability and needs to take vast amounts of medication to treat epilepsy. She had two previous convictions for public order offences.

Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting, said the Director of Public Prosecutions viewed the case at being at the higher end of the scale.

Mr Garland’s son, Martin, read from a victim impact statement in which he said his father was known in “his circle” as a gentleman.

He said he was an intelligent man who was known for “blasting out a Frank Sinatra number at the top of his voice” and he got on extremely well with people in his local community.

Martin Garland said his mother died when she was only 54 years old. He said this devastated his father as it had been a sudden death and the couple had been “joined at the hip”.

“This brought us even closer to our Dad,” Mr Garland said before he added that years later his father decided to sell the family home and move to the apartment in Coolock.

“He was very happy there. He had a few bob in his pocket and he was a short walking distance from his local pub and the bookies.”

He described the assault as devastating the family. “It was like something that only happens to other people,” Mr Garland said before he added that they set up a roster in the family to make sure their father was never alone while he was in hospital.

“It was a great strain on our family. We were arguing with each other. Not a day went by without tears,” Mr Garland said.

He said his father could not speak for almost two months which left him visibly frustrated. The hospital said there was no more they could do for him and their father could no longer live independently.

He said the family then decided to source a nursing home to care for their father.

“It was the hardest decision we could make. It caused all of us sleepless nights,” said Mr Garland. He added that after a long difficult search they chose Nazareth House on the Malahide Road where Desmond Garland remained until his death.

Caroline Biggs SC, defending, told Judge Nolan that her client had a mild learning disability and had difficulties interacting socially.

Gda Ronan Smith agreed with Ms  Biggs  that Nugent and Mr Garland had been drinking companions for many years and had “a fundamentally dysfunctional relationship that was largely based on the consumption of alcohol”.

ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE

Garda Ronan Smith said that on the night of the attack Nugent appeared in Kyles Pub, the local where she and Mr Garland were regulars. She was in a hysterical state claiming that somebody had “stabbed Dessie”.

Andrew Nolan, who was a long distance cousin of Mr Garland’s and worked in Kyles, followed her to the man’s apartment.

He found the pensioner lying behind a couch with towels surrounding him in an attempt to stem blood that was coming from under his chin and his left arm.

Nugent claimed that men had knocked on the door, burst into the apartment, ransacked it and stabbed Mr Garland.

The next day she came to the garda station to be questioned and admitted she had “unintentionally” cut the victim with a knife.

She claimed he said he wanted to be in a relationship with her but she said no. Nugent said that the man then hit her twice with a golf umbrella so she grabbed the knife. She said she hadn’t meant to do it.

“I didn’t want to be in a relationship. He is too old, old enough to be my granddad,” Nugent told gardaí.

Gda Smith said that gardaí were never able to take a statement from Mr Garland because of the extent of his injuries.

Speaking of Nugent and Mr Garland’s relationship Gda Smith agreed with Caroline Biggs SC, defending, that “in sobriety both were perfectly fine and lovely people but under the influence they both became cranky”. She said both fell under the category “of vulnerable and lonely people”.

Ms Biggs said Nugent, a mother of a 16-year-old boy, led a lonely existence but was able, at times, to hold down employment.

She submitted that drink was “a huge factor” with both personalities changing under the influence of alcohol.