Violent | 

Man ‘scaled psychiatric department wall’ and stabbed priest six times in ‘unprovoked attack’

The incident took place on Sunday morning at a chaplains’ house near University Hospital Waterford in Ardkeen

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A man has appeared in court charged with stabbing a priest six times in what was described as a violent and completely unprovoked attack.

The incident took place on Sunday morning at a chaplains’ house near University Hospital Waterford in Ardkeen.

Anthony Sweeney (22) from O'Connell Court, Penrose Lane, Waterford City, is charged with assault causing harm, under Section 3 of the Criminal Justice Act.

A Special Sitting of Waterford District Court today heard he is alleged to have "scaled a wall" from the Department of Psychiatry at University Hospital Waterford in Ardkeen and gained access to the nearby chaplains’ house where three priests resided.

Once inside the house, he allegedly armed himself with a peeling knife from the kitchen and went upstairs.

There, he met a priest coming from the bathroom. He allegedly stabbed the priest six times, leaving him with wounds to the face and head and four in the back, before fleeing. The handle of the knife broke during the attack, Detective Garda Liam Harty told the court.

The priest, a man in his 30s, required hospital treatment following the attack but he was deemed fit enough to be discharged on Sunday evening to continue his recovery at home.

The incident happened at 9.16am on Sunday morning and the man fled the house two minutes later, according to CCTV, Detective Garda Liam Harty said.

He said that while the attack was brief the incident was very serious, adding that it was a "completely unprovoked attack" and that the charges facing Sweeney may be upgraded to include "attempted murder and burglary".

Det Garda Harty said it was a "violent attack" and that it was interrupted by another priest in the house/

Sweeney left in response, jumping from the upper floor and injuring himself in the process.

He discarded his shoes and socks and returned to his bed in the Department of Psychiatry, Det Garda Harty told the court.

Sweeney was arrested shortly afterwards by gardaí.

As Det Garda Harty and Inspector Niall Daly were outlining the case to the court, the accused, wearing a black jumper and black tracksuit, interjected and turned on his microphone to say: "Can you get on with it?"

Gardaí lodged an objection to bail which was granted by Judge John Cheatle.

Defence barrister Andrew Walsh said his client is entitled to a presumption of innocence and requested legal aid along with a psychiatric report. Both of these were also granted by the judge.

Judge John Cheatle put the case back for mention in the District Court for Tuesday.

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