NewsCrime Desk

Enraged by wife's plan to leave him, Dublin dad stabbed her to death

David Bourke
David Bourke

SHORTLY after 10am on the morning of August 28, 2007, Jean Gilbert’s screams broke through the sleepy silence that normally enveloped the Laverna Dale estate in leafy Castleknock, west Dublin.

The mum of three had just returned home from meeting her lover Robert Campion - whom she had met while on a Buddhist Holidaymto Japan in 1986 - in the Travelodge Hotel on the Navan Road when her husband of 13 years attacked her with a knife.

One of the couple’s children – just 10 years old at the time – was in the sitting room with her mum, sister and brother when David Bourke stormed into the room and demanded to know if Jean had given their youngest son’s phone to her lover.

Bourke knew his marriage was failing and Jean had asked him for a divorce months earlier.

The couple’s seven-year-old son gave a horrific account of what happened next.

“Daddy thought my mum gave my phone to my mum’s boyfriend,” he said.

“My dad had the knife. He was trying to kill my mum. Daddy tried to put it [the knife] into mummy’s tummy or head or something.

“I told Dad not to kill my Mum.”

By the time Garda Padraig Brennan arrived at the house at 10.30am, Jean was unconscious on the floor.

Her three terrified children had remained in the room with her.

A seemingly shellshocked Bourke “pointed to a knife with a black-handle on the mantelpiece and said that was the knife he had stabbed her with”.

As Bourke was escorted under caution to Blanchardstown Garda Station that morning, his desperately ill wife was rushed by ambulance to nearby Connolly hospital.

Over the next five hours as Bourke unburdened his soul to officers about why he had wanted to cause his wife “suffering and pain” - while doctors were working furiously to save the woman he’d stabbed four times.

Bourke told the officers sitting across from him in one of Blanchardstown Garda Station’s interview rooms that, as far as he was concerned, until June 15 of that year he and his wife had enjoyed a very normal marriage.

But on that day, Jean asked him to meet her in a local pub - a meeting at which she told him she was ending their marriage.

Bourke recalled that his wife informed him she wasn’t in love with him anymore, that she loved someone else, that she had never really loved him and that this other
man was the real love of her life.

According to Bourke, the conversation ended with her telling him she wanted him out of the house within the month.

“I had no intention to leave the house,” he said afterwards.

“The thought of seeing her with another man sent me into a rage.”

Instead, Jean moved into the box room and Bourke remained in the family home.

Bourke said he was “utterly devastated, so heartbroken”.

He said that he told his wife that it was “crazy”.

But Jean now acted as if, in her mind, the marriage had already been dissolved.

In July, she went on a Buddhist holiday to France and, after the trip, stayed with Mr Campion in Southampton for four to five nights.

During this time David Bourke carried out his own investigations into his wife’s affair.

He discovered e-mails and letters Jean had exchanged with Campion, which he said almost destroyed him.

In one, Jean wrote to Robert: “My dearest beautiful Bob you are to me extraordinarily beautiful.

“I want us to be together for as long as possible in this lifetime.”

On August 17 – eleven days before her death - Jean would visit Robert Campion in Southampton again.

On this occasion Campion gave his landlord notice at the flat he was renting and planned on returning to Ireland with Jean at the end of her trip. On August 26, the pair took the ferry to Dublin.

Campion booked into a Travelodge Hotel and Jean paid his bill.

The following day, while David Bourke was out, Campion arrived at Laverna Dale.

He stayed a while, had something to eat and smoked a cigarette.

When Bourke returned to the house that night the dirty plates remained on the table and the house smelled of Campion’s body odour and cigarette smoke.

As the interview continued in Blanchardstown Garda Station, Bourke told Garda Karl Keane that the night before he stabbed his wife, she had slept in the box room.

Bourke said he had been unable to sleep and he heard her leave the house at 5.20am that morning.

Bourke told the garda he had been “too upset to go back to bed” that morning.

He stayed awake until he got a text from his wife that morning to say that she would be home at 10am.

“I knew she’d been with her boyfriend but she told me she’d gone to get a message.”

He said that his wife returned and went into the sitting room.

“I was feeling very angry. I took a long steak knife and put it in at the back of my shirt.”

Mr Bourke told gardai that he remembered “calling her [Jean] a tramp”.

“I asked her about a phone my son was missing and had she given it to her boyfriend who’d come over from England.

“Then all I remember is taking the knife from behind my back.”

Bourke told gardaí he “lunged” at his wife as she was sitting on an armchair. He said they both struggled on the floor and he stabbed her two or three times.

He said that he was “calling her names” when he stabbed her.

“My daughter came in, saying, ‘Why did you kill her? What is going to happen to us now?’”

Mr Bourke said that he then put the knife on the mantlepiece and called 999.

Mr Bourke told gardaí that he “felt bad and remorseful for what [he] had just done”.

When asked what his intention was when he stabbed his wife, Mr Bourke said: “To cause her pain, it wasn’t to kill her.”

“I wanted to hurt her, yes, but not to kill her.”

Jean lost her battle for life in Connolly hospital at 3.29pm that day.

On March 30 2009, David Bourke was convicted of the murder of wife Jean and sentenced to life imprisonment.

He remains incarcerated in Wheatfield Prison.