A 63-year-old man has admitted trying to murder his partner Donna Foster by repeatedly stabbing her at their home in Cork on August 11 last year.
The court heard they were living together in Cobh, but were having relationship difficulties and there was talk of separating.
During an argument on the morning of August 11 last year, Patrick O’Rourke took a sharp boning knife from their kitchen and stabbed her repeatedly – the most serious wound was a few inches long and ran down the centre of her throat.
O’Rourke of Cooline Drive, Ballyvoloon in Cobh changed his plea to guilty just before the trial was due to begin this afternoon.
Afterwards, he became visibly upset as he read out a letter of apology and wished her “health, happiness and success” in the future.
He thanked her for sharing “the best years of his life” with him, apologised "sincerely and unconditionally" to her and apologised to his own family for the shame he’s brought upon them.
The court heard that 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 gardaí that O'Rourke (pictured) “never stopped stabbing her” and felt that she was going to die, the court heard.
On Monday at the Central Criminal Court, O’Rourke pleaded not guilty to the charge and a jury was sworn in to hear his trial.
At 2pm today Mr Brendan Grehan SC 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 pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Donna Foster in Cork last year.
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 had pleaded guilty, there was no need to hold a trial.
He thanked them for their patience and exempted them from jury service for a period of ten years.
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.
Today 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," he read.
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.
Today prosecution counsel, Mr Tim O’Leary SC, called Detective Garda Bill Dillane from Cobh Garda Station to give evidence.
The court heard that Donna 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 a period of time and there were “suggestions of separation”.
The court heard that a 999 call was made at 10.30am on August 11 saying that a serious incident had occurred.
Det Gda Dillane was on duty at the time and attended the scene.
"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,” he said.
As he stopped outside the house, a neighbour told Det Gda Dillane that Donna Foster was in the house and she 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,” he said.
There were two minors in the kitchen and one of them had "blood coming from her at the time", he said.
The witness told the court that Garda Twomey took care of Ms Foster by pressing towels to the wound which was on her side and “where extreme amounts of blood” were coming from.
“There was a severe wound to her neck, to the front of her throat,” he said.
Ms Foster had several other injuries and emergency services were called to the scene.
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 then arrested and placed in the patrol car.
The two 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 which he had used to commit the two assaults.
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 witness said the argument between O’Rourke and his partner appeared to have started early that morning in the upstairs bedroom and it concerned their relationship.
“They went downstairs to the kitchen and when the argument recommenced downstairs, Mr O’Rourke by his own admission as well as Ms Foster’s statement said he was leaning by the sink, bent down and got a knife out of the press,” 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.
The witness agreed with Mr O’Leary that the accused said to Ms Foster as he moved on top of her with the knife: “I am going to fucking kill you.”
“At that stage Donna was sitting on the armchair and he was standing over her and all the stab wounds were in a downward motion,” said the witness.
Det Gda Dillane told the court that Ms Foster told gardaí that she put her hands up to protect herself as the accused started “stabbing down on her”.
The witness agreed with counsel that she tried to push him away as she felt he would keep stabbing her until she was dead.
“Yes she was emphatic about that and she thought there was no way out,” said Det Gda Dillane.
Ms Foster also told gardaí that the accused “never stopped stabbing her” and she could feel a “cut down along” her neck.
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 that 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 the minor put her “hand up” to stop O’Rourke getting at Ms Foster’s heart.
After being stabbed several times, Ms Foster slipped off the chair onto the ground and told the accused he was “not getting her” in reference to the minor.
O’Rourke seemed to stop at that stage and gardaí arrived ten minutes later, said the witness.
The court heard that Ms Foster sustained “multiple stab wounds” and numerous incision wounds to her hands and limbs.
Det Gda Dillane agreed with counsel that Ms Foster’s airways were exposed in her neck and she had injuries to her upper abdomen through which her small intestine was visible.
There was also injuries to her chest and she was given a drug to stop the internal bleeding before being transferred to Cork University Hospital.
Ms Foster’s wounds were closed the following day in an operation which took four hours.
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 court heard there was a significant risk of O’Rourke causing “fatal injury” to Ms Foster and she was discharged from hospital two weeks later.
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.
She has undergone intensive physiotherapy but her progress has been slow, the court heard.
Det Gda Dillane told the court that the knife used in both attacks was a “specialised boning knife” which was designed for the purpose of cutting up the flesh of fish.
Ms Foster has made a “relatively good recovery” but as a result of her injuries she will not be returning to work as a beautician.
The court heard that O’Rourke has been in custody since August 11 last year and has had access to bail but never took it up.
Det Gda Dillane told the court that O’Rourke worked locally as a taxi driver in Cobh and he had never come to garda attention before.