Chef jailed for threatening to kill wife with kitchen knife

Antonia O'Brien said she feared her children would find her dead after her husband held a kitchen knife to her throat in March 2019.
Chef jailed for threatening to kill wife with kitchen knife

Stephen Maguire

A man who held a knife to his wife's throat and threatened to kill her has been jailed for two years.

Chef Jimmy McGinley went berserk when his wife, Antonia O'Brien mentioned their late child while they were at home having drinks.

Ms O'Brien said she thought her children would find her dead when her husband held a kitchen knife to her throat after he exploded in a fit of rage.

McGinley appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court where he pleaded guilty to a number of charges.

The 34-year-old was charged with making threats to kill, producing a knife in the course of a dispute and also assaulting Ms O'Brien.

Gardaí told the court a hysterical Ms O'Brien called 999 at around 1.30am on March 30th, 2019 saying her husband was trying to kill her.

The couple had been drinking in their home at Glendale in Letterkenny when Ms O'Brien mentioned a baby the couple had lost through miscarriage nine years previously.

The accused "lost it" and grabbed a large kitchen knife and put it to the throat of his wife, the court heard.

I didn't want the kids to find me dead in the morning.

Ms O'Brien said in her statement: "I literally thought he was going to kill me. I pleaded with him not to. I didn't want the kids to find me dead in the morning. The knife was touching my neck it was so close."

The victim managed to kick out at McGinley, who has no previous convictions, and managed to call gardaí.

During an initial interview, McGinley said it was his wife who started to speak about ex-partners and had gone crazy, threatening to kill him. He said he did not recall any conversation about losing a baby.

However, in a second interview with gardaí, McGinley said he never thought he would hurt his wife.

Ms O'Brien declined to make a victim impact statement and was not in court for the sentencing.


Barrister for McGinley, Mr Simon Gillespie made a detailed plea for his client, describing the guilt and shame which had overcome him since the incident.

Mr Gillespie said he has sat across from McGinley on three occasions discussing his case and each time the accused had cried and expressed his deep remorse.

He asked Judge John Aylmer to consider a number of mitigating factors including his client's early plea and the fact the incident stemmed from an emotionally charged incident about a lost child.

He added his client did all he could to ensure his wife and children were not put through a trial in the court and also referred to McGinley's difficult upbringing.

The accused had joined a group called Men Overcoming Violence (MOVE) and was completing a 12-week course to address his issues.

Mr Gillespie asked Judge Aylmer to consider a non-custodial sentence saying the Probation Services' report said McGinley was in a position to complete a community service term.

"A custodial sentence would be truly devastating for him and I would ask you to allow him to continue on the path of rehabilitation," Mr Gillespie added.


Judge Aylmer said this was a serious case which in ordinary circumstances would merit a custodial sentence.

Passing sentence, he viewed the threats to kill Ms O'Brien encompassing the production of the knife and the assault as the most serious aspect of the case.

He noted McGinley had no previous convictions, had cooperated fully with gardaí and had given an early plea which led to sparing his wife of any trial.

He said he also appreciated he had a difficult childhood, had lost contact with his wife and three children but did show victim empathy.

He sentenced McGinley to three years in prison but suspended the last 12 months of the sentence to incentivise him going forward.

He also ordered McGinley to abstain from all drugs and alcohol when released and engage in all counselling.

The suspension means that McGinley will serve a total of two years in jail.

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