Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Knife mum gets lenient sentence ‘because of kids’

A "hot-tempered" woman who stabbed her ex-partner seven times with a kitchen knife has been jailed for a year.

But Belfast Crown Court Judge Gemma Loughran ordered that 37-year-old Geraldine McKiernan serve four months in jail and spend the remainder on licence after telling her she was being “particularly lenient” because of her children.

She told McKiernan she was “sceptical” about her claims of being the victim of domestic violence as there was a suggestion that she “gave as good as you got”.

The judge said: “Domestic violence is a crime which should not be regarded as less serious because the victim has been, or is in a relationship with the offender and your case tragically illustrates that men as well as women, are victims of the scourge of domestic violence.”

McKiernan, from Lisfadden Drive in Belfast, was originally charged with attempting to murder her ex-partner Paul James Walsh on February 1 last year but that charge was not proceeded with after she pleaded guilty to wounding him. Prosecuting lawyer Tessa Kitson told the court how McKiernan went to Mr Walsh's home in Milford Close after finding a note he had left at her house.

He saw McKiernan standing at the front door “wielding a bottle” and the pair struggled before they fell against a neighbour's railings when McKiernan produced the six-inch kitchen knife and “jabbed” it at him seven times.

The lawyer said that as Mr Walsh began to feel “light-headed” he pushed McKiernan out of the drive and rang for an ambulance.

Mrs Kitson said that of the seven stab wounds he sustained to his abdomen, two of them had penetrated the small bowel and Mr Walsh was kept in hospital for just over a week.

While she agreed the offence was “clearly a domestic matter”, the lawyer revealed that McKiernan had relevant convictions on her criminal record including an offence of wounding in 1994 and three assaults on police.

Defence QC Frank O'Donoghue claimed that McKiernan had been the victim of numerous incidents of domestic violence “over many years” but added that he was not saying she “didn't give as good as she got”.

He said while in most domestic stabbing cases the offender would be jailed, given the background of the relationship and the fact that one of McKiernan's daughters is changing schools this year, he urged the court to “temper justice with mercy” and not send McKiernan to prison.

Describing the incident as a “vicious attack”, Judge Loughran said she had “anxiously considered” the future of McKiernan's children but told her: “You should have considered their needs when you set out in a premeditated fashion... to inflict harm on him.”

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