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IRA Garda killer Pearse McAuley jailed for attack on estranged wife

Published 02/12/2015

Pearse McAuley and his new wife Pauline on their wedding day in Kilnaleck, Co Cavan, in 2003
Pearse McAuley and his new wife Pauline on their wedding day in Kilnaleck, Co Cavan, in 2003

IRA Garda killer Pearse McAuley has been sentenced to 12 years with four suspended for an attack on his estranged wife, in which he stabbed her 13 times.

Prominent republican McAuley, who is 50 and originally from Strabane, appeared at Cavan Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday dressed in a purple shirt, purple jumper and grey trousers.

He was told the last four years of the sentence are being suspended.

With remission McAuley will be released in five years.

He previously served 10 years for the 1996 killing of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe.

McAuley had already pleaded guilty to causing serious harm to former Sinn Fein Councillor Pauline Tully at their Cavan home on Christmas Eve last year.

He was also given a three year concurrent sentence for possession of a knife, six years for false imprisonment of Ms Tully and four years for a threat to kill Ms Tully’s brother.

Ms Tully sat at the back of the court whilst the sentence was passed.

Each of the sentences were back-dated to the date when McAuley was taken into custody, December 27 last year.

Judge John Aylmer told McAuley to stand while he gave the reasons for the sentence.

McAuley, who is originally from Strabane, but with an address at Cavan Bank Walk, Ballyconnell, County Cavan had already pleaded guilty to producing a knife during a dispute at Kilderry, Kilnaleck, Cavan, on December 24 last year.

He has also pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning his estranged wife, Ms Tully and with intentionally/recklessly causing serious harm to her on the same occasion.

McAuley had also pleaded guilty to threatening to kill her brother Tommy during the same incident.

Judge Aylmer said the horror of the attack on Ms Tully had been ‘courageously’ set out by her in her victim impact statement to the court last week.

The judge said the assessment of the DPP was the attack on Ms Tully had to be considered the most serious category.

The appropriate sentence for the attack was between seven and a half years and 12 years.

“However I would place this particular assault at the upper end of that scale bordering on the most exceptional and serious category of such offences,” said the judge.

The other offences, said the judge, were part of the same set of circumstances.

However, said the judge, there were mitigating circumstances in the case.

He said McAuley deserved credit “for what I accept is genuine remorse for his behavior”.

Ms Tully had refused to accept a letter of apology, however the judge said he had read it and noted its contents.

Judge Aylmer went on: “While not accepting that intoxication provided any explanation or excuse or mitigation I do note however that Mr McAuley has a severe difficulty with alcoholism.”

He said McAuley had spent three months in residence at a treatment centre in Galway in 2014 and the attack on Ms Tully had taken place during a relapse.

The former IRA man had since attended AA meetings in prison but he had a “tendency towards self-harm because of the remorse he has felt”.

McAuley was reported to be an ‘exemplary’ prisoner who had worked with the rehabilitation of other prisoners.

He also noted that McAuley had used his influence to positive affect in the peace process.

“Taking all of those mitigating features together it is my view, the sentence is 12 years in the serious assault matter and I am going to suspend the last four years for a period of four years upon his release,” said Judge Aylmer.

As McAuley left court he looked up at Ms Tully before bowing his head as his ex-wife stared at him.

Sinn Fein stood by McAuley and three other IRA killers after the 1996 killing of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe during an armed robbery.

McAuley was jailed for 14 years but released in 2009 after serving 10.

Sinn Fein claimed he should have been released under the Good Friday Agreement and had fought for his early release despite Irish government opposition.

McAuley met Ms Tully when she visited him in jail. They married in 2003 as he was serving his sentence. They have two children.

He shot his way out of Brixton Prison in London in 1991 and fled to the Republic. After his release for the McCabe killing, the Crown Prosecution Service said it would not seek his extradition for the escape. McAuley was remanded into custody for sentencing on November 24.

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