Man jailed for 13 years for knife frenzy: Craig Binnie stabbed his partner, her family and an elderly neighbour
A 43-year-old man who stabbed his partner, several members of her family and an elderly neighbour has been jailed for 13 years for the "horrifying and sustained attack."
Craig Binnie armed himself with two knives before launching a frenzied attack which left five people suffering from stab wounds in December 2013.
The knife attack - which occurred in Newtownabbey - was carried out in front of a five-year old child.
Passing sentence, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said it would be "hard to imagine the terror" of the victims who were subjected to a "frightening, sustained episode of unprovoked violence."
Speaking after sentence was passed Angela Bell, who at the time of the stabbing was the partner of Binnie and who almost died from multiple stab wounds, said she was glad her ex was now behind bars and unable to hurt anyone else.
During today's sentencing the court heard that Binnie, from Tynan Drive in Newtownabbey, was initially charged with attempting to murder Ms Bell and several other family members including her mother, who had just been released from hospital after undergoing an operation on her brain.
On the day his trial was due to start, Binnie pleaded guilty to four counts of wounding with intent and a fifth count of wounding. This was accepted by the prosecution, who withdrew the attempted murder charges.
At a previous court hearing, it emerged that the incident took place on the Ballyduff estate in Newtownabbey when Ms Bell visited her mother Nancy McDowell on the evening of December 30, 2013.
Binnie armed himself with two kitchen knives, and when Ms Bell asked what he was doing, he stabbed her. He then stabbed Lisa Donaghy - the mother of Ms Bell's grandson - before continuing his attack Ms Bell as she lay prone on the floor.
Ms Bell's mother Nancy McDowell - who was recovering from brain surgery - also tried to intervene but slipped and fell as she tried to get out of her chair. The grandmother threw her slipper at Binne, who then turned his attention on the pensiomner as she lay on the ground.
Despite their injuries, some of those in the house managed to escape and raised the alarm with neighbour Samuel Gaynor, who at the time was 80.
Mr Gaynor was able to disarm Binnie, but in the process he sustained multiple wounds. Judge Kerr commended his bravery for disarming a man brandishing a knife "with little regard for his own safety."
Also injured during the incident was Ms Bell's brother Robert McDowell, who found Binnie with a knife in his abdomen. When he asked Binnie "what have you done?", Binnie didn't respond but instead tried to stab himself again before turning the weapon on Mr McDowell.
Police and ambulance later arrived on the scene, and whilst his victims were rushed to hospital, Binnie resisted attempts by paramedics to render him first aid.
He was arrested and initially refused to answer police quesions, but later presented a written statement in which he claimed he thought his life was in "imminent danger".
Also claiming that he was "going through severe withdrawal symptoms" from cannabis and drink at the time which included paranoia, Binnie's statement said: "At no stage did I intend to kill anyone or cause serious injury. I suffer from serious mental health problems and in the past, and including the incident in question, I have attempted to take my own life."
The court also heard that Binnie, who has previous convictions for violence, claims to have no recollection of the incident.
Judge Gordon Kerr QC said he accepted Binnie was bipolar, but spoke of the seriousness of the offending - especially given that it was carried out in front of a five-year old child who witnessed his mother, grandmother and great-grandmother being stabbed.
Judge Kerr also spoken of the injuries sustained by all the victims, and the subsequent impact this has had on their lives.
Angela Bell sustained multiple stab wounds including four injuries to her chest, and spent a period of time on a life-support machine. She has been left with permanent scars as a result of her former partner's attack, and as the Judge noted, she could easily have died.
Her mother Nancy McDowell, who was 77 at the time of the attack and recovering from surgery, was treated for two stab wounds. She has lost confidence and now has a family member staying with her at all times.
Robert McDowell was treated for a wound to his left thigh, whilst Lisa Donaghy was stabbed in her arm and shoulder.
When brave neighbour Samuel Gaynor arrived at hospital, he was found to have multiple wounds across his body which required surgery. He has since been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and has been left with severe pain in his knees and hands.
Regarding Binnie, Judge Kerr revealed that the Scottish national, who had no contact with his children but who has now re-established that contact, hopes to transfer to a Scottish prison.
He handed Binnie a 13-year prison sentence, with an extended four-year period on licence imposed.