A Dublin man who stabbed his former girlfriend’s new partner after hiding in her flat to confirm his suspicions about her new relationship has been jailed for seven years.
Mark Byrne (aged 42), who had become fixated on the woman’s new relationship, used a knife from her kitchen to inflict a life threatening kidney injury on her new boyfriend as he struggled with the couple when they returned to the flat.
The victim spent eight days in hospital but the kidney injury has since healed.
Byrne, of Coburg Place, Seville Place, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to John Walsh at North Strand Road on September 2013.
He has 30 previous convictions and has been in custody since his arrest.
Judge Martin Nolan said it seemed Byrne had struggled to accept the relationship was over and had “decided to make certain his suspicions” by breaking into his former girlfriend’s home and hiding as he waited for the couple to come back.
He said Byrne had appeared to be acting in “the throes of a bout of jealousy” and noted he had expressed remorse.
He accepted Byrne did not bring the knife to the house but grabbed it during the altercation.
Judge Nolan said he also had to take into account the invasion of the woman’s home and the adverse effects the incident has had on her and Mr Walsh. He imposed a seven-year sentence backdated to when Byrne went into custody.
Sean Gillane SC, defending, said Byrne had “turned in on himself” after the relationship ended and the assault had its genesis in warped judgment on his client’s part.
He said Byrne had gone to the apartment to see the new relationship with his own eyes.
He submitted Byrne had co-operated with gardaí and had been waiting at his home to be arrested.
Byrne told gardaí he had been drinking and taken some cocaine on the night. His recollection was “a bit of a blur” but he admitted trespassing and stabbing Mr Walsh.
He described that he had “blanked out” because of his feelings when he saw them together.
Byrne told gardaí he was sorry for what had happened and said he had “handled everything wrong.”
Garda John Paul Moriarty told Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, that Ms Eileen Tighe lived in a flat above the Strand House Pub where she worked. She had noticed that her former boyfriend, Byrne, had become jealous and possessive over the course of their relationship.
On the night of the incident she went up to her apartment between 5 and 6 am accompanied by her new partner Mr Walsh. She went to the bathroom and was brushing her teeth when she felt someone pulling and twisting her hair. She turned and found herself face to face with Byrne.
Mr Walsh attempted to intervene and struggled with Byrne to the flat entrance. Byrne was lashing out punches at Ms Tighe and Mr Walsh as well as roaring and shouting.
The struggle continued outside the door with the trio becoming entangled and falling down the stairs.
Ms Tighe unlocked the front door and ran into the street. A taxi driver took her to Store Street garda station. Afterwards there was an altercation between Byrne and Mr Walsh on the street which was broken up by co-workers from the pub.
Mr Walsh felt a sharp pain in his side and saw he was covered in blood. He was taken to hospital with a life threatening injury to his upper kidney and spent eight days there.
It appears the knife used had been taken from Ms Tighe’s kitchen. Garda believe Byrne gained access to the flat during the night via the roof using a ladder. He was later arrested at his home.
Ms Tighe said a piece of her underwear had been removed from the washing machine and her underwear drawer had also been disturbed. She said a sum of cash was also missing.
Byrne told gardaí he had checked the washing machine to see if Mr Walsh’s clothes were there.
It was Byrne’s view that the woman was cheating on him and he wanted to see what was going on for himself. He had strong feelings for her and had wanted more out of the relationship.
Gda Moriarty agreed with Mr Gillane that it was unclear when Byrne had taken possession of the knife but it came from the flat and he had not brought it with him. He agreed Byrne was regretful.
Mr Kennedy said the view of the Director of Public Prosecutions was that the offence lay at the lower end of the high range of the spectrum before being adjusted for mitigating circumstances.
Both victims described in their victim impact statements the adverse effects the offence has had on them and reported being nervous since the incident.