A violent addict who was on a suspended sentence when he tried to murder his then partner by strangling her in their bed and stabbing her in the neck, leaving the tip of the blade embedded in her spine, has been jailed for 15 years.
Sentencing Stephen Rabbitte (36) at the Central Criminal Court on Monday to 16 years in prison with the final year suspended, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon said the victim had suffered a sustained and violent attack with more than one weapon in her home, a place she was entitled to feel safe.
The court heard the woman was also attacked with a slash hook before neighbours came to her aid.
Rabbitte of Marlborough Road in Dublin 7 had pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Audrey Reddin at the same address on April 10th, 2021.
The court heard during Monday's sentence hearing that Rabbitte and his then partner had met at a drug recovery programme in 2018 and began living together in a flat.
The victim thought it was going to be a normal day and there had been no previous disagreement between the pair before this incident occurred.
Ms Reddin was sitting in bed with Rabbitte at the time when for no apparent reason the accused punched her in the face, breaking her teeth.
The defendant then proceeded to push Ms Reddin back into the bed and strangle her. He then hit her in the nose, punched her in the head and bit her on the nose.
The judge said the violence stopped as quickly as it began when Rabbitte went into the sitting room. However, when Ms Reddin followed her then-partner into the room he pushed her onto the couch and stabbed her in the neck with a knife.
At one point the knife broke, with the tip of it remaining in her neck when she broke free, the court heard.
The victim was on the ground looking for her phone during the attack and had begun to call her mother.
However, Rabbitte picked up a slash hook with a rusted metal tip from under the couch and used that to resume the attack on his partner. He hit her on the arm with the slash hook as she tried to crawl out to the hallway and she received a broken arm from one of the blows.
At all times, the court heard, Ms Reddin tried to get away and neighbours found her covered in blood lying in the hallway of her home. Rabbitte could be seen standing over the victim with his arm raised, holding the slash hook and was about to hit Ms Reddin again, who was already bleeding heavily.
However, one of the neighbours managed to intervene by grabbing his arm and taking the weapon.
Referring to Ms Reddin's injuries, the judge recalled that the victim's treating head and neck specialist had said that the tip of the knife had been embedded extremely deep in her spine and part of it remained in her neck close to a major blood vessel.
The court heard that this could have resulted in a spinal injury and that the victim was lucky to have survived the attack.
"He confirmed the tip of the blade remains embedded in her spine and that it was too dangerous to remove it," said Ms Justice Creedon. The victim also suffered a stab wound to the dorsal of her left hand and has ongoing stiffness.
Ms Reddin continues to experience daily pain and suffers from headaches. She may need further neck surgery, has a metal plate in her left forearm and has been diagnosed with PTSD. The victim doesn't go out much and is fearful of men.
Ms Justice Creedon said the court was provided with a report from Rabbitte's forensic psychiatrist who said that he has a history of multiple substance misuse. The defendant described feeling a number of unusual and paranoid beliefs at the time and has since engaged with addiction services.
She said Rabbitte was considered fit to plead and does not suffer from any mental disorder.
A letter of apology was also furnished to the court. But the judge said this event had occurred whilst Rabbitte was on a suspended drug sentence.
The judge said it is clear that Ms Reddin was lucky to survive the attack but noted that she remains capable of independent living.
She set the headline sentence at 20 years imprisonment.
In mitigation, Ms Justice Creedon noted that a guilty plea was entered in advance of Rabbitte's trial date and a letter of apology had been handed into the court which she said demonstrated remorse. She also took into account that the defendant had been diagnosed with dyslexia and that he was willing to address his addiction issues.
The court heard Rabbitte had 51 previous convictions including one for assault and another for possession of a knife.
Rabbitte was sentenced to 16 years in prison with the final year suspended for a period of one year on condition that he remains under the supervision of the probation services. His sentence was backdated to April 12th, 2021.
The defendant will appear before Galway Circuit Court on March 7th next for reactivation of his suspended sentence.