Man who tried to stab partner to death in Cork assault jailed for 9 years

A 63-year-old man who tried to kill his partner after she told him she was in love with somebody else has been jailed for nine years.

Patrick O’Rourke tried to stab Donna Foster to death at their home in Ballyvoloon in Cobh, Co Cork on the morning of August 11 last year.

He was due to stand trial earlier this month but pleaded guilty to her attempted murder at the last minute and apologised to her in court.

Patrick O'Rourke

Last week, Ms. Foster said she found it hard to reconcile the fact that he tried to kill her and deprive her children of a mother.

He was also handed a three-and-a-half-year concurrent sentence for assault causing harm to a minor at the same address on the that date.

As a result of the "horrific" attack, Ms Foster’s airways were exposed in her neck and she had injuries to her upper abdomen through which her small intestine was visible.

Ms Foster told gardai that O'Rourke “never stopped stabbing her” and she felt that she was going to die.

Giving her victim impact statement, Ms Foster said she was left with physical, emotional and psychological scars by the "continuous, vicious and frenzied attack" by her former partner after she told him she planned to leave.

Delivering her statement, Ms Foster said she needed time to heal from the "atrocity" inflicted on her by O'Rourke.

She added: "I sustained serious stab wounds from a continuous, vicious and frenzied attack which left me fighting for my life, as I truly and honestly believe I was about to die." She said that if it were not for the intervention of the minor who was also injured in the assault, she would not be here today.

"For me, I now have a different perspective on life. I realise that life is precious and fragile," she said.

She said she finds it hard to believe that a man she trusted "would subject me to the most horrific attack in an attempt to kill me."

Taking the stand last month O'Rourke wished his former partner "health, happiness and success in her life" and said that their years together were the "happiest" of his life.

Detective Garda Bill Dillane of Cobh Garda Station previously told the court that the relationship between Mr O'Rourke and Ms Foster had broken down prior to the attack but there had been no previous violence.

Speaking to Brendan Grehan SC, representing O'Rourke, Det Gda Dillane said Ms Foster and Mr O'Rourke had been together about 15 years. Two weeks before the attack Ms Foster said she no longer wanted to be with him and planned to leave. Det Gda Dillane agreed that O'Rourke had given a statement to gardaí in which he described confronting Ms Foster about her plans to leave on the morning of the attack before fetching the knife he used to stab her repeatedly.

Miraculous'

Mr Justice McCarthy said Ms Foster suffered a number of serious wounds when the accused stabbed her with a boning knife and she was "obviously extremely fearful and distressed."

The judge referred to Dr Emmet Andrew's medical report where he outlined that Ms Foster had received "two particularly serious lacerations" and it was miraculous that she was not injured more severely.

"The evidence is that Ms Foster has found it very difficult to return to work and she was self-employed. Undoubtedly apart from the financial difficulties which this has caused it has no doubt had an impact on her sense of well being," said the judge.

The judge also referred to the minor who was in the house at the time and witnessed "the horrific event" which caused "grave distress" on her part.

"It seems there was a laceration across the palm of her right hand when she was intervening to protect Ms Foster and also a superficial abrasion to her left palm. This is a significant injury which has left her with significant challenges and limited movement," he said.

Referring to Ms Foster's victim impact statement, Mr Justice McCarthy said the ordeal has been emotionally draining and psychologically traumatic on her.

"She truly and honestly believed she was going to die. She states she is grateful for having survived and now has a different perspective on life," he said.

The court heard that it was accepted in evidence that the accused was described by gardaí as "very cooperative" and he had difficulty coming to terms with what he had done but claimed responsibility for the attack.

The judge said that while the evidence against O'Rourke is "very strong", he has been described as contributing positively to prison and is a well-behaved prisoner.

"On the evidence he seems to be a person who was a valuable member of the community," he said.

Mr Justice McCarthy said it was still a mitigating factor that O'Rourke pleaded guilty at the very end of the legal process.

The appropriate starting point for this crime was "in or around 12 years" but sentencing was a subjective process, the court heard.

"He is nearing 65 years of age which is a significant sentencing factor," he said.

'Remorse'

The judge said he had taken into account O'Rourke's previous good character, his age as well as behaving well in prison.

"The principal mitigating factors are the guilty plea, his cooperation and his remorse. The remorse is in good faith and he read out an apology from the witness box," he said.

Mr Justice McCarthy then sentenced O’Rourke to nine years in prison and backdated it from when he first went into custody on August 11, 2015.

He also sentenced O'Rourke to three and a half years for the charge of assault causing harm on the minor, to run concurrently.

Speaking outside the Central Criminal Court today, Ms Foster said she was pleased with the sentence and was happy it was over with. She also agreed she got justice.

"I'm just happy it is all over and now myself and the girls can just draw a line under it and move on with our lives. I'm feeling OK. I had a make-up artistry business and that's gone as I now can't do the work I was doing with the injuries I have."

Her father, Harry Foster, said: "At least he is paying for what he did…We actually decided whatever the judge said we would be pleased with it and that's it."

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