Cork woman on trial for husband's murder

A mother-of-two who shot her husband dead with a shotgun she had bought him weeks earlier should not be jailed, so she can continue caring for her children, a court heard today.

A mother-of-two who shot her husband dead with a shotgun she had bought him weeks earlier should not be jailed, so she can continue caring for her children, a court heard today.

The Central Criminal Court heard Norma Cotter (36) killed her husband Gary, a soldier in the Irish army, after a drunken row in January 1995.

They had gone out drinking with friends on January 2, but Mr Cotter (40) had returned to their home in Broomfield West, Midleton, Co Cork at 1.30am.

The court heard when Mrs Cotter got home at 4.30am she vomited in the bedroom the couple shared and went to sleep in a spare room after a dispute with her husband.

Another more serious row later erupted between the couple over who would pick up their young son Christopher from his grandparents and Mrs Cotter fired two shots - one into a wall and one into her husband's side, the court heard.

Mrs Cotter had pleaded not guilty to her husband's murder and was set to be tried this week, but the jury was discharged when she pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Tuesday and it was accepted by the prosecution.

Defence counsel Patrick MacEntee SC told the court there was evidence Mr Cotter - who had served in Lebanon - had been drinking whiskey that night and this often meant a black eye for his wife.

He told Mr Justice Michael Peart Mrs Cotter had already served almost three years in prison and had suffered tremendous grief and remorse over what she had done.

Arguing for a non-custodial sentence, Mr MacEntee said: "She's a loving person. She's already suffered great punishment. Mrs Cotter is to this day devastated at possibility of losing her association with her children."

Along with 11-year-old Christopher, Mrs Cotter had an infant daughter with another man who had since abandoned her, he told the court.

Detective Garda Michael O'Sullivan told the court Mrs Cotter had bought the gun as a Christmas present just weeks earlier for her husband, who enjoyed hunting.

He said that she, her husband and their families were local people of good standing in the community.

Mrs Cotter was found guilty of her husband's murder in an earlier trial, but the finding was quashed in the Court of Criminal Appeal.

Mr Justice Peart said he would consider his sentence over the weekend and deliver it on Monday morning.

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