Driven out | 

Brute who was exposed for battering his ex six weeks after she gave birth flees home

The 32-year-old faced a major backlash from residents after McKinley was exposed in this paper on Sunday

Steven MooreSunday World

Woman-beating thug James McKinley has fled his north Belfast home after being exposed for battering his ex-partner.

The 32-year-old faced a major backlash from residents in the Ballysillan area of North Belfast after McKinley was exposed in this paper on Sunday for unleashing a cowardly and vicious attack on his then partner three years ago.

And with a protest planned outside his address in the Sunningdale area of the district on Tuesday night he packed-up and fled.

A neighbour captured the moment he fled in a taxi with a hood covering his face. He left with abuse being fired in his direction.

The woman who filmed his skulking departure can be heard shouting, “Woman-beater away”.

McKinley is almost certainly going to prison when he’s sentenced in January at Belfast Crown Court but until then he will need to find a suitable bail address.

Last week McKinley pleaded guilty to assaulting Louise Gilmore in November 2019 during a four-hour attack – leaving her with a series of serious injuries including a broken nose, shattered cheekbone, a fractured skull and had 12 knocked out teeth.

At the time he’d been in a relationship with now 33-year-old Louise for just 11 months and she had given birth to their daughter just six weeks before the shocking attack.

The smirking bullyboy was exposed for the first time in the Sunday World last weekend and the shocking images of Louise have gone viral across the internet.

On Tuesday a message posted on Facebook by a group called Official Protestant Coalition read: “The community of Ballysillan and Sunningdale are asking for your support to remove a convicted woman beater as they don't feel safe in their own community with this monster James Joseph McKinley living amongst them.”

It urged people to gather for a rally at 6.30pm but on Tuesday morning they posted an update stating: “He’s now gone so the gathering has been called off. If he’d seen back at the house the neighbours will be calling for another gathering.”

Louise Gilmore, who battled with mental health issues, PTSD and drug addiction after the attack, told the Sunday World she was not surprised he had been put out.

“I didn’t even know he was living in Ballysillan,” she told us. “I thought he was living in Sandy Row but I’m not surprised he’s been put out of where he was living.

“I’m not surprised some communities don’t want a monster like him living amongst them.”

And she said she’s been heartened by the support she’s received from the local community since the story appeared last Sunday.

“I’ve had so many messages supporting me and that has been great to see. I thank everyone who has sent me a message.

“Hopefully people will now see him for what he is. And hopefully other women will come forward and report domestic abuse.

Louise Gilmore

“James denied and denied he had done anything to me for three years. There doesn’t seem to be any remorse for what he did to me and he seemed very cocky when he was at court.

“Maybe now it is dawning on him just how serious his actions were that night.”

Monster McKinley repeatedly bashed Louise’s head on the cistern of a toilet, punched and kicked her and while she lay unconscious smashed bottles over her and jumped on top of her pelvis.

Louise Gilmore made headlines across the world when she posted a video of her injuries online just after the attack in November 2019.

The then 30-year-old mum-of-three suffered a broken nose, shattered cheekbone, a fractured skull and had 12 teeth knocked out saying she believed she was “going to die”.

The West Belfast woman was stretchered from the Clonavogie Gardens home she shared with her children.

Her then 12-year-old son was present during the ordeal which lasted over four hours and left her with slash marks to her legs and wrists, and severe bruising to her face and body.

The video went viral and was shared more than 11,000 times and viewed by a million people and the images – as you can see – caused shock and widespread revulsion.

At the time Louise spoke to this newspaper about her sickening and unprovoked attack but we couldn’t identify her attacker for legal reasons – until now.

Last Friday at Belfast Crown Court, with a jury already sworn in, 32-year-old McKinley was rearraigned on two charges, one of criminal damage to her phone and a second charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm on November 22 2019.

The cocky thug stood in the dock and had the two charges read out to him.

James Joseph McKinley admitted at attacking his then partner Louise Gilmore three years ago

Dressed in a grey hooded sports top, blue jeans and black trainers McKinley replied ‘Guilty’ to both offences.

Ironically his guilty plea came on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – a campaign led by the UN Secretary-General and UN Women since 2008 which aims to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls.

Releasing McKinley on continuing bail Judge Kinney addressed McKinley only to warn him to refrain from taking drugs, alcohol or legal highs.

He said that while the next few weeks would be a time when people would be out celebrating Christmas the judge warned McKinley, “That’s something you should avoid as you don’t want to place yourself in a more precarious position than you are already in.”

McKinley had been facing more serious charges including threats to kill, common assault and attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm and possession of a knife and hurley with intent to commit an indictable offence.

But with him admitting a single count of assault and criminal damage the PPS agreed those offences would remain on the books.

The offences were alleged to have taken place on various dates between April 2019 and November that year.

Speaking outside Laganside Courthouse Louise Gilmore said she was “disappointed” the other charges were not proceeded but she was “glad” to hear him say the word ‘guilty’ to assaulting her.

“I wanted my day in court because I wanted everyone to hear the horror that so-called man put me through in front of my son,” said brave Louise.

“I wanted to stand in front of him and tell him what he has done.”

Ironically Louise believes prosecutors were concerned about what kind of witness she would have been because since the shocking attack her life has spiralled out of control and she became addicted to drugs to help numb the physical pain and psychological scars which continue to haunt her.

She added, “I can understand why they accepted a guilty plea on the assault charge because my family and friends saw how hysterical I was when I saw him on Wednesday for the first time in three years. I don’t think I could have given evidence that day as it all came flooding back when I saw him.

Louise Gilmore after the court case

“I’d never taken drugs in life before he attacked me but afterwards, I became addicted to cocaine – first it was street cocaine and then it was pure stuff. It wrecked my life and I lost my three kids – including the baby I had just had with him. That’s all because of what he did to me.

“He destroyed my life but I’m trying to get it back together now. I’m off the drugs and I’m fighting to get my kids back. That’s my next fight.”

Louise says she was only going out with McKinley for about 11 months and she says he had been abusive before towards her.

And she remembers the night he went berserk and beat her black and blue.

“He grabbed my hair and smashed my head on the toilet over and over again. The toilet broke he hit me that hard. I couldn’t speak and my son was distressed wondering what was wrong with me.

“It was like it was in the cartoons – my head just went al lumpy but I couldn’t speak. McKinley put him upstairs to bed and told him I’d just fallen after having a drink.

“He was holding a knife and I was worried what was going to happen next. He booted and punched me and I remember pleading with him to stop. I said, ‘Stop James, you’re hurting me’ but he didn’t care and then he started pouring cider and vodka down my throat. He was forcing my mouth open to do it.

“I fell to the floor and he jumped on my head until I was unconscious, but he must have kept jumping on top of me because he knocked out 12 of my teeth, including my back teeth.

“While I was unconscious McKinley was smashing glass bottles over me and I have a bulging disc where he jumped on my pelvis.

“My son witnessed all this and apparently he vomited and fainted three times. Eventually he was able to get help. He saved my life.”

McKinley is listed to be sentenced at Belfast Crown Court on January 26th.

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