Academic who bludgeoned and stabbed wife sentenced next week
An academic who bludgeoned his wife with a mallet before stabbing her to death will find out next week how long he will spend in jail for her murder.
Last May 52-year-old Gerard O'Kane ambushed his estranged wife Anne Marie outside her north Belfast apartment, Belfast Crown Court heard yesterday.
Then, after a cursory attempt at cleaning up after the attack, the father-of-two left the Northview apartment block without checking if the 50-year-old was alive or dead, and drove to Glengormley police station, just five minutes away, and confessed to the murder.
Prosecuting QC Terence Mooney said a vulnerable, defenceless Mrs O'Kane was attacked in her own home which was invaded by her selfish and jealous husband because he could not accept the fact their marriage of more than 25 years was at an end.
Mr Mooney also claimed that a terrified Mrs O'Kane was subjected to a prolonged attack where there was evidence of strangulation, gratuitous violence, and at least two episodes of stabbing.
But the defence maintained that O'Kane, a doctor of philosophy in organic chemistry, had gone to his wife's flat to frighten her, but had snapped on seeing a text message from her new love.
Defence counsel said a remorseful O'Kane accepted that what he did was absolutely horrendous and had caused unimaginable pain, and that he now had to live with the fact he killed the only woman he ever loved.
Mr Justice Weir, who has already sentenced O'Kane, from Hollybrook Avenue, Glengormley to life, said he wished to review and reflect on the case before deciding on the appropriate tariff he must serve before he should be considered for release.
O'Kane, who was dressed in an open-necked white shirt and dark jacket, sat in the dock, his head bowed, just yards away from the grieving family and friends of his murdered wife.
Mr Mooney said although the couple had married in 1982, they had split in the months before her death. O'Kane, he added, had trouble accepting the marriage was over and had some sort of perception that it might be restored.
He said that, in the week before the killing, a “tearful, emotional and angry” O'Kane confided in a friend what he was prepared to do about the situation, although he often retracted what he said. Mr Mooney said at one stage O'Kane admitted he could kill Anne Marie and “her new liaison”.
Then, just three days before the unprovoked attack — during what the lawyer described as a course of repetitive conversations with the same friend — O’Kane said “he could do 30 years and sit in a cell reading books”. However, Mr Mooney said O'Kane corrected himself, and added: “Why should I? Why should I give in and do this?”
During this time O'Kane was “subjected to mood swings”, his counsel said, and the marital difficulties he perceived were playing on his mind.
A remorseful O'Kane told the authorities he would remember what he had done until the day he dies, and that his wife should have had the chance of living and controlling her own life, the court heard.
O’Kane had also accepted the “unimaginable pain he’d caused”, but by his guilty plea from the outset he had saved her family weeks of a trial, his counsel said.
The killer who calmly handed himself in
Police were first alerted to Anne Marie O’Kane’s murder after her estranged husband walked into a station and surrendered himself.
Members of the victim’s family wept yesterday as they sat behind her killer and heard details of how he came to stab her to death in a frenzied attack.
Prosecuting QC Terence Mooney outlined the circumstances of Mrs O’Kane’s death.
He said that shortly after 9am on May 23 last year, O'Kane drove to his local police station, telling civilian security staff he he had murdered his wife.
Five minutes away in her apartment, police found his wife lying dead in her blood-spattered living room. She had been stabbed a number of times.
Mr Mooney revealed that on the morning of the murder, a neighbour of Mrs O'Kane had unwittingly let her estranged husband into the gated apartment block at around 7.30am.
O'Kane, armed with two knives and a mallet, lay in wait for his wife.
Mr Mooney said that when she opened the door of her flat to leave, O'Kane ambushed her, striking her on the head with the mallet.
According to O'Kane's “narrative” to police, “having injured his wife, he was trying to comfort her and, according to him, had a ‘nice’ conversation”.
Mr Mooney said the fatal attack took place when O'Kane became “infuriated” after she received a text message from a work colleague she was seeing.
O'Kane got a knife from a kitchen block and stabbed his wife at least eight times, while also trying to strangle her. He then made some attempt to clean the flat and the murder knife before driving to police, disposing of the mallet and two other knives on the way.