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Addict who stabbed partner in the heart to be sentenced next week

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 09/05/2015

Richard McAuley
Richard McAuley

A man who stabbed his partner in the heart in front of her seven-year old daughter, will find out next week how long he will spend in prison for her murder.

Ballymena woman Denise Dunlop was stabbed three times in her Centuripe Avenue home in the early hours of June 15 last year by her partner Richard McAuley.

McAuley (41), from Townhill Road in Portglenone - who was described in court as a heroin addict - has already admitted murdering Ms Dunlop (32).

He appeared in the dock of Antrim Crown Court yesterday, sitting in Belfast, where details of the fatal stabbing emerged for the first time.

In the aftermath of the stabbing, which was done in front of Ms Dunlop's seven-year-old daughter and her step-mother, McAuley was heard to say "with a bit of luck, she is dead".

Ms Dunlop's murder was carried out whilst McAuley - who has 44 previous convictions - was under a suspended sentence for a previous incident during which he shouted "Seig Heil" and carved satanic symbols with a knife on the front door of a property housing foreign nationals.

McAuley admitted murdering Ms Dunlop during a court appearance in March and .was informed that he would be facing a life sentence. After hearing submissions yesterday, Mr Justice Weir said he would impose the tariff next Friday.

As family and friends of Ms Dunlop sat in the public gallery, Crown prosecutor Ciaran Murphy QC revealed McAuley had stabbed his partner a total of three times.

The court heard that following a report of a stabbing in the Centuripe Avenue area, the emergency services arrived at around 12.30am. Ms Dunlop was lying on her living room floor, unconscious and displaying no signs of life.

Despite being rushed to hospital she passed away.

Defence barrister Laurence McCrudden QC, acting on behalf of McAuley, spoke of the "tragic events" and reiterated the point that McAuley claimed he was provoked by Ms Dunlop.

He told the court that while the relationship between McAuley and Ms Dunlop was marred by arguments and squabbling, it was "not a violent relationship" - but said it was "afflicted" by McAuley's heroin and alcohol dependency.

The court also heard that McAuley has since expressed genuine remorse.

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