A father of three who awoke from a drunken slumber to find a man allegedly performing a sex act on him has been jailed for six years after brutally attacking the man.
Lee Mitchell went into an uncontrolled frenzy and stabbed pensioner Patrick McLaughlin at least 20 times at a house in Carndonagh, Co Donegal, on May 30, 2014.
So severe was the attack that the 74-year-old lost the sight in one of his eyes and is now in a care home.
At Letterkenny Circuit Court, Mitchell, formerly of Windmill View, Letterkenny, pleaded guilty to a section 4 assault causing serious harm to Mr McLaughlin at 1 Ard Bhride, Carndonagh.
Garda Dermot Kenny told the court gardaí were called by neighbours of Mr McLaughlin around 10.20pm on the day of the incident.
Mitchell’s ex-girlfriend lived at No 2. Her parents said Mitchell had come into their home and said: “I’m only after murdering yer man next door. I hit him with a crutch and stuck him four times with a screwdriver — how am I going to get out of this? I need petrol to get rid of the evidence.”
Garda Kenny said a colleague entered No 2 and heard “a gurgling sound”. He found Mr McLaughlin covered in blood sitting on a chair.
Forensic tests found that Mitchell had stabbed Mr McLaughlin 33 times using a knife, a screwdriver, and the handles of both a frying pan and a pot. Mitchell later admitted taking heroin and 20 diazepam tablets, and drinking Buckfast.
During a Garda interview the day after the incident, Mitchell said he had been drinking with Mr McLaughlin and fallen asleep.
Questioned by Peter Nolan, defending Mitchell, Garda Kenny confirmed that Mitchell told detectives he had woken up because he felt pressure on his legs. He said he looked down and saw Mr McLaughlin performing an alleged sex act on him.
“I lifted the shaft of a brush. I hit him on the head — I saw a screwdriver — I know I stabbed him in the neck. I was in a frenzy,” Mitchell had told detectives.
Mr Nolan referred to a forensic report which showed DNA from Mr McLaughlin inside the Mitchell’s underpants.
Mitchell took to the stand and apologised to his victim: “I’m deeply sorry for the hurt and pain I caused. I’m really sorry for what I done. I’m sorry to the whole community. This is not me. I’m not that person.”
Judge John O’Hagan said the attack was done in an “uncontrollable frenzy”.
He sentenced Mitchell to six years in prison, backdated to July 23, when he was taken into custody.
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