guilty plea  | 

Court hears husband stabbed wife three times in row over drinking

Byrne has 39 previous convictions

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Fiona Ferguson

A husband stabbed his wife three times after she asked him to leave their home following a row about his drinking, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.

Philip Byrne (41) was pulled off his wife by a painter working at the house after stabbing her in the abdomen but managed to get free and stab her twice more.

Byrne, with an address at Levmoss Park, The Gallops, Leopardstown pleaded guilty to assault, threatening to kill or cause serious harm, production of a kitchen knife and false imprisonment at the family home on December 2, 2020.

The court heard the couple have reconciled. His wife indicated she wished to withdraw her statement and made another statement saying it was accidental. She did not submit a victim impact statement.

Byrne who has 39 previous convictions, mainly road traffic offences, has been in custody since his arrest.

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned sentencing until June and remanded Byrne in continuing custody. She asked the Probation Service to conduct a spousal assault risk assessment as part of their report.

Presenting the state case, Garda Brian Kirwan told Anne Rowland SC, prosecuting, that the evening before, the couple had a row over Byrne’s drinking as his wife was anxious he stop drinking in the home.

The following morning she went to work and during the day realised her husband was drunk due to texts she received. She rang him and told him to leave the house.

The woman came home at about 1pm and Byrne was at the house, along with a painter doing work there. There was bottle of Vodka open and she accused him of drinking, which he denied.

She told her husband she wanted him out. Byrne dared her to hit him but she did not want to and persisted in telling him to leave.

Byrne then told his wife he would stab her and she ran as she heard a drawer opening. She said he had a blank look on his face and it frightened her.

She ran out the door of the house alerting the painter that her husband was coming. Byrne followed pointing a large 12 inch knife towards her. She shouted, “No, don't” and felt a sting in her left side as she was stabbed in the abdomen below her ribs.

The painter grabbed Byrne, pulling him off his wife and pushed him into a bush.

His wife ran back towards the house hoping to get inside and lock the door, but Byrne got away and put his foot in the door. She screamed for help and heard the painter shouting, “Don’t do it.”

There was a struggle in which Byrne swung the knife again at his wife, striking her in the breast. She fell backwards against the wall, the door opened and Byrne came inside.

As she tried to get away, Byrne grabbed his wife by the back of her hair and lifted the knife in the air. As he swung she lifted her hand to block it as she thought it was going towards her neck.

She was struck in the hand injuring her two middle fingers. She begged the accused man not to do this and told him she loved him. He told her that she didn’t.

He dropped the knife and said, “Look what you made me do.”

The woman told gardai that at the moment she was being stabbed, she felt Byrne was trying to kill her. She picked up the knife and ran outside and went with the painter to ring gardai.

The woman required surgery on her hand to have the nerves and tendons reattached and suffered permanent nerve damage. She received eight stitches to the wound on her abdomen and five on the other wound. Medical evidence was presented to the court.

There were a number of other witnesses to the assault including the painter who had helped the woman. He said the accused man had his wife by the scruff of the neck before stabbing her the first time and the door had locked behind them following the altercation there.

He said he had called in the window at Byrne to put down the knife and the woman shouted to him her husband was trying to kill her. He wrapped her hand in a scarf after she left the house.

Gardai arrived at the house and Byrne was arrested. He denied any stabbing and said his wife had done it to herself.

Ms Rowland said the woman subsequently indicated she wished to withdraw her statement and made another statement saying it was accidental. Ms Rowland said this was at odds with the other witnesses and the trial had been due to proceed.

Vincent Heneghan SC, defending, said the incident arose out of the consumption of alcohol and a domestic dispute. He said his client is ashamed and has apologised to his partner.

He said the guilty pleas were valuable, given the fact his wife wished to withdraw her statement, and that the first sign of true remorse is when someone takes responsibility for their actions.

He said Byrne has set out his circumstances in a letter handed into court, Counsel said the letter set out his background, upbringing and losses he has suffered during his life.

Mr Heneghan said his client has a clear understanding of the harm he inflicted and he and his partner have since reconciled. He said Byrne has used his time in custody well and has managed to maintain his horticultural business so he has employment to go back to.

He said his was a serious crime, which was prevalent within society and Byrne must be punished but he asked the court to take into account he had spent 15 months in custody in a time of Covid without physical contact with family and had lost his mother during that time.

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