horror attack | 

Thug battered partner six weeks after she gave birth

James Joseph McKinley admitted to attacking his then partner, Louise Gilmore, three years ago in a prolonged attack which took place just six weeks after she had given birth to McKinley’s baby daughter

Sunday World

A twisted woman-beating thug who battered his partner unconscious in front of her terrified son has finally pleaded guilty to assault.

James Joseph McKinley admitted to attacking his then partner, Louise Gilmore, three years ago in a prolonged attack which took place just six weeks after she had given birth to McKinley’s baby daughter.

Monster McKinley repeatedly bashed her 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. She said 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.

On 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, who made whooping noises as he passed his victim outside the court after the hearing, stood in the dock and had the two charges read out to him.

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

But he’s unlikely to be ‘whooping’ for long as it was made clear during the short hearing that he’s almost certainly going to prison when he’s sentenced in January.

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 and how his own daughter could be adopted and we’ll never see her again – all because of him.”

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.

“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.

“I remember waking up with charger leads tied round my neck after he’d bashed my head off the ground and I could hear him in the toilet,” says Louise. “I went in and I could see his eyes were green with anger and he was going off his head.

“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 all 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.”

Louise was supported by friends and family throughout the court process, including her younger brother Stephen who described McKinley as the “devil”.

Stephen said the attack on Louise had had a devastating impact on the whole family.

“Our Louise was such a vibrant and confident woman before this animal attacked her,” says Stephen.

“She was great woman, a great mother and he has robbed her of so much of her life. Because of what he did she has suffered terrible mental health issues and addiction to drugs to try and numb the pain.

neighbour

“At the start we thought James was a nice guy. He was a neighbour and it seemed like a good relationship but our dad, who sadly passed away with cancer recently, always said he didn’t like him.

“Louise was the centre of the family. She held the family together in so many ways. When she was attacked the family suffered because she hit rock bottom, she lost her self-esteem.

“It broke me to see what he did to her and the way he left her. She’s fighting back. Her energy is contagious, and I love her and will always stand by her.”

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

Speaking on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Alliance Spokesperson for Violence Against Women and Girls Connie Egan MLA said: “As a society, we must unite in opposition to violence against women and girls. Violence against women and girls remains one of the most widespread human rights violations in our world today and must be eliminated from our communities.

“The PSNI recorded almost 32,000 domestic abuse incidents in 2021 alone, the third highest level since records began in 2004. Each statistic is a life that has been devastated and we should never become blind to the reality of this issue in Northern Ireland.”

steven.moore@sundayworld.com


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