Fiona Ferguson and Eimear Dodd
A husband who stabbed his wife three times after she asked him to leave their home following a row about his drinking has been jailed for five years.
Philip Byrne (41) was pulled off his wife by a painter working at the house after stabbing her in the abdomen, but he managed to get free and stab her twice more, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.
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 2nd, 2020.
Sentencing Byrne on Friday, Judge Melanie Greally said the assault had been “potentially life-threatening”.
She said there were several aggravating factors including Byrne's previous convictions and the nature of the offence.
The court was previously told that 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 her breast. Medical evidence was presented to the court.
Byrne has 39 previous convictions, including for assault and possession of a firearm, has been in custody since his arrest.
Remorse and shame
Judge Greally noted mitigating factors included Byrne's expressions of remorse and shame, his poor mental health and the positive steps he has taken since going into custody.
She also noted that Byrne holds a position of responsibility within the prison's laundry and is a volunteer with the Samaritans.
Judge Greally said a probation report found the defendant is at high risk of re-offending and engaging in harmful behaviour in an intimate personal relationship.
She handed Byrne a sentence of seven years in relation to the count of false imprisonment.
Suspending the final two years of the sentence, the judge directed Byrne to follow the directions of the Probation Services for two years upon his release.
Byrne must also disclose any intimate interpersonal relationship and comply with any safeguarding measures.
Judge Greally imposed separate 3½-year sentences for the three remaining counts. She backdated all sentences to December 3rd, 2020.
The court heard the couple have since 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.
At a sentence hearing earlier this year, Garda Brian Kirwan told Anne Rowland SC, prosecuting, that the evening before the incident, the couple had a row over Byrne’s alcohol use as his wife was anxious he stopped 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 found Byrne at the house, along with a painter doing work there. There was a 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 felt a sting in her left side as she was stabbed in the abdomen below her ribs.
The painter grabbed Byrne, pulled 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.
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 and was struck in the hand injuring her two middle fingers.
There were several other witnesses to the assault including the painter who had helped the woman. He said Byrne 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 that her husband was trying to kill her. He wrapped her hand in a scarf after she left the house.
Gardaí arrived at the house and Byrne was arrested. He denied any stabbing and said his wife had done it to herself.
Vincent Heneghan SC, defending, said the incident arose out of the consumption of alcohol and a domestic dispute. He said his client was ashamed and had apologised to his partner.