Gardaí arrived to a Cork home that was “covered in blood” after a Cork man tried to murder his partner by repeatedly stabbing her, the Central Criminal Court heard today.
Taking the stand yesterday, Patrick O’Rourke apologised “sincerely and unconditionally” to his former partner Donna Foster.
The court heard that as a result of the 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 gardaí that O’Rourke “never stopped stabbing her” and felt that she was going to die, the court heard.
O’Rourke, aged 63, of Cooline Drive, Ballyvoloon, Cobh, Co Cork, was charged with attempting to murder Ms Foster at Cooline Drive on August 11, 2015.
On Monday at the Central Criminal Court, O’Rourke pleaded not guilty and a jury was sworn in.
At 2pm yesterday, Brendan Grehan, defending, asked for his client to be re-arraigned and arraigned on another count.
Mr Grehan also asked the court for an opportunity for his client to read a letter of apology to the court.
O’Rourke then pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Donna Foster.
He also pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to a minor at the same address on the same date.
Mr Justice McCarthy told the jury that as the accused pleaded guilty, there was no need to hold a trial.
O’Rourke was then remanded in custody ahead of his sentence hearing on November 25, when victim impact statements will be read to the court.
Yesterday, Tim O’Leary, prosecuting, called Detective Garda Bill Dillane from Cobh Garda Station to give evidence. The court heard Ms Foster was living with O’Rourke in Cobh when the offences took place.
Det Gda Dillane agreed with Mr O’Leary that there had been “difficulties” with the couple’s partnership which had been going on for some time and there were “suggestions of separation”.
A 999 call made at 10.30am on August 11 said a serious incident had occurred.
Det Gda Dillane said: “As I drove into the estate, there was a green area and I saw Patrick O’Rourke over to the extreme left of it and he was on the telephone, he looked dishevelled.”
As he stopped outside the house, a neighbour told Det Gda Dillane Ms Foster was in the house and was “hurt”.
“There was an armchair in the middle of the floor and Donna was kneeling down, face into the armchair and the place was covered in blood as was the chair.”
There were two minors in the kitchen and one of them had “blood coming from her at the time”, he said.
“There was a severe wound to [Ms Foster’s] neck, to the front of her throat,” he said.
Det Gda Dillane told the court he went to the green area where O’Rourke was.
“He [O’Rourke] said he was in trouble and he did it and asked if she was still alive,” said Gda Dillane.
O’Rourke was arrested and placed in the patrol car.
The minors were removed from the house and it came to the attention of Gda Dillane that one of the minors had a “severe laceration to the palm of” her hand.
O’Rourke told Det Gda Dillane where he had thrown the knife he had used.
The witness agreed with Mr O’Leary that statements given by Ms Foster and the minor confirmed they had been attacked with “a boning knife” on the same day.
Ms Foster had suffered “quite horrific injuries”, said Det Gda Dillane.
The court heard that Ms Foster had several stab wounds including a stab wound “down the centre of her throat which was a few inches long” and there was blood “oozing from that wound”. She also had a very severe wound to “her ribs on the side” from which her intestine was protruding.
He agreed with Mr O’Leary the accused said to Ms Foster as he moved on top of her with the knife: “I am going to fucking kill you.”
Reading from Ms Foster’s statement, Mr O’Leary said: “I felt I was going to die and I felt all weak. I think I was screaming during all this, I can’t recall if he said anything else.”
The court heard that a minor then came into the kitchen and “almost” threw herself at the accused.
The witness agreed with counsel that Ms Foster and the minor both remember the accused say: “I’m going to get her in the heart.” This remark was directed at Ms Foster.
The court heard the minor went in between the accused and Ms Foster and it was then that she got injured.
Det Gda Dillane agreed with counsel that it was the consultant surgeon’s view that Ms Foster’s injuries were “extremely serious” and life-threatening.
The minor who was injured in the attack still has problems with her right hand as the tendons leading to her index fingers have not recovered completely.
Det Gda Dillane said O’Rourke had not come to Garda attention before.
Letter of apology to the victims
Mr Grehan told the court that the accused wanted to express his apologies “in person” to the victims.
O’Rourke agreed with his counsel that he had written a letter which was addressed to Ms Foster and the two minors who were in the house at the time.
Taking the stand, O’Rourke thanked the court for the opportunity to read his letter.
“On the morning of August 11, 2015, my life and the life of many changed. I stand here before you Donna Foster to sincerely and unconditionally apologise for that morning. I am really sorry for what I have done.”
O’Rourke said he wished Ms Foster “health, happiness, and success in her life”, and he prayed she would make a “full physical and mental recovery from the terrible ordeal” he had put her through.
He said that their years together were the “happiest” of his life and thanked her for sharing them with him.
O’Rourke also apologised to his children for the “shame” he has brought upon them.
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