Belfast Telegraph

Jealous husband told to 'rot in hell' by family of wife he murdered

By Michael Donnelly

A jealous academic who bludgeoned, strangled and stabbed his defenceless wife to death was told to “rot in hell” by her grieving family after he was told he will serve at least 14 years before he will be considered for release — if he ever is.

Mr Justice Weir told 52-year-old Gerard O'Kane that he had cruelly extinguished the life of his wife Annie in her Belfast apartment on May 23 last year.

As the father-of-two — who admitted killing his 50-year-old wife because he could not accept that she had left him — was led from the dock, her grieving family jeered at him, telling him to “rot in hell” and that he should have killed himself, not Annie.

The Belfast Crown Court judge told O'Kane — a philosopher in organic chemistry — that he would serve “every single day” of the 14-year tariff without any remission, even for good behaviour.

The judge also told O'Kane, from Hollybrook Avenue in Glengormley, that he had weighed up the pros and cons about killing his wife beforehand and had developed a calculated plan for carrying out the act.

Mr Justice Weir told O'Kane that he had no right to control his wife, where she lived, or who she should see — nor had he the right to cruelly extinguish her life.

“The harm that you have done, the pain you have caused and the suffering you may have caused, including to yourself, is all down to your self-destructive jealousy,” declared Mr Justice Weir.

He also told O'Kane that he could see little remorse in him for the murder of a vulnerable and defenceless woman during what was a premeditated and prolonged attack using a mallet, his hands and knives.

He added: “Much of your remorse is likely to be attributed to self-pity at the predicament you find yourself in because of your cruel actions.”

Earlier, said Mr Justice Weir, O'Kane had given himself up to police, who later found his wife Anne Marie — or Annie, as she was known to family and friends — lying in a pool of blood on her living room floor.

O'Kane told police that after the attack — during which he had throttled her as well as stabbed her eight times — he had kissed her one last time and placed both of her arms down by her side.

Before leaving her Northview apartment block on the Antrim Road, he washed the knife he had used after one of his own had broken in the attack, but did nothing to seek help for her.

As he drove to his local police station, just minutes away, he disposed of the rubber mallet he had used to bludgeon his way into the flat and the two knives he had brought with him.

Mr Justice Weir said that O'Kane had claimed that he only went armed to his wife's home to frighten her, and that the murderous attack on her was carried out when he snapped after reading text messages on her phone from a work colleague.

However, the judge said that he was quite unable to accept that proposition, as O’Kane had gone to her home prepared, with a modified mallet hidden in his coat and two knives.

O'Kane then lay in wait for his wife before pushing his way into her home, striking her repeatedly with the mallet.

More importantly, said the judge, O'Kane had cut his wife at least once in the hallway before even seeing any text message, as he claimed, in the living room.

Neighbours also reported hearing raised voices and screams which were also inconsistent with O'Kane's claims of having a “nice conversation” with Annie.

Then, said the judge, when his knife broke during the frenzied attack, he got another from a kitchen block, and later washed it before leaving.

The only mitigation in his case, said the judge, was O’Kane’s plea of guilty.

We will never forgive him for such a vile act, say relatives

The heartbroken family of murder victim Annie O’Kane have said they will never forgive her husband for his “vile act”.

In a statement issued after Gerard O’Kane was jailed for at least 14 years, they described Annie as a “fun-loving and caring person who would go the extra mile to help family and friends”.

“We, her family, are heart broken by the cruel and selfish way she was taken from us,” the statement said.

“We cannot understand how someone, who was supposed to have loved her, could carry out such a vile act.”

O'Kane, they claimed, had shown no remorse for what he had done, and even accused him of smiling and laughing during his last court appearance, much to their distress and hurt. “We will never forgive him for what he has done,” they added.

The family said while nothing could ever bring back their loving Annie, they were thankful O'Kane had been brought to justice.

They also praised the police investigation and the liaison officer who had proved to be a tower of strength to them.

Now, said the family, all that was left for them to do was to “pick up the pieces ... of our shattered lives and let our beloved Annie rest in peace”.

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