Woman who stabbed victim in 'barbarous' row over €50 has appeal dismissed

Martina Rooney (40) was jailed for eight years in July 2021 over the attack
Woman who stabbed victim in 'barbarous' row over €50 has appeal dismissed

Paul Neilan

A drug addict who repeatedly stabbed another woman in a row over a €50 note in a "barbarous" attack that a judge compared to "films depicting the worst of human behaviour" has failed in a bid to overturn her eight-year jail sentence.

The Court of Appeal noted that the attack was aggravated by a sexual element which amounted to a "humiliating attack on intimate body parts".

Martina Rooney (40), who was out on bail at the time of the incident, believed the woman held money belonging to her when the prolonged assault took place in the Temple Bar area of Dublin two years ago. She was jailed for eight years in July 2021.

Medical reports submitted to the court noted the victim sustained “extensive facial bruising” and lacerations to the back, buttock and thigh.

The sentencing court heard that Rooney and the injured party had been in Temple Bar together on the afternoon of June 13th when the accused realised she was missing a €50 note.

Suspecting the woman had the money, Rooney proceeded to physically search her on the pavement, removing her clothing while doing so. Rooney began to beat the woman and used an implement to stab her multiple times on the head and body.

At the Court of Appeal, Barry White SC, defending, said his client was someone who “has had little opportunity in life”, and has struggled with an addiction to hard drugs for years.

Mr White said his client had carried drugs for her mother at a young age, had limited education and had been "born into circumstances" which led to her drug addiction.

He said drug abuse had an adverse effect on the mind, and abusers do not fully rationalise their actions.

Headline sentence

Counsel submitted that the trial judge erred in setting the headline sentence at 12 years before mitigation and did not give enough weight towards rehabilitation.

Mr White said Rooney's recorded convictions leading up to the assault had been dealt with at the District Court level, adding this was her first time before a Circuit Court.

Counsel said his client had entered a guilty plea, was no longer on methadone and had completed certified courses while in prison.

Mr Justice John Edwards, presiding at the appeals court, said "intimate parts of the victim had been outrageously violated". He said the court also noted that the victim had been stabbed in the eye.

Ms Monika Leech BL, for the State, said the trial judge did not err in identifying 12 years as the headline sentence and that Rooney had been given a "generous" discount through mitigation that reduced the sentence by three years.

Ms Leech said the 18-month suspension during which Rooney is to liaise with probation services showed the judge gave sufficient weight towards rehabilitation after what was a "barbarous attack".

In dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said the offence of assault causing serious harm carried a maximum penalty of life in jail.

He said Rooney showed a "complete lack of control" and the assault was aggravated by the sexual element which amounted to a "humiliating attack on intimate body parts".

Mr Justice McCarthy said the trial judge did not err in either identifying the headline sentence nor in giving sufficient weight to rehabilitation.

He said the trial judge gave considerable concern to being attentive to the difficult circumstances of the appellant, who showed "noticeable improvement". He said the court would dismiss the appeal.

Co-accused

Rooney’s co-accused, Karl Fishe (36), was jailed for two years for his part in the assault.

Rooney, with an address at Stanhope Green, Stanhope Street, Dublin 7, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to counts of assault causing serious harm and robbery on June 13th, 2020, at Adare Lane and Price’s Lane, both Dublin 2.

At the time of her plea, Rooney had 73 previous convictions, and at the time of the assault had been on bail for a theft offence.

Fishe, with an address at Ashgrove, The Coombe, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing harm on the same date. He had 124 previous convictions.

At the sentence hearing, Judge Elma Sheahan noted the “savagery” of the assault and the “persistent punching and stabbing” of the victim by Rooney. She compared the attack to films depicting “the worst of human behaviour”.

The judge sentenced Rooney to nine years imprisonment, with the final 12 months suspended on strict conditions, taking the charge of robbery into consideration.

The victim had said that her “whole life changed” after the assault.

A phone, a number of social welfare cards and a sum of €175 were taken from the victim during the assault and were never recovered.

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