Belfast Telegraph

Man jailed for eight years over frenzied health centre stabbing

A man who tried to kill his ex-partner in a frenzied knife attack in front of horrified families and children was today jailed for eight years.

In jailing 25-year-old Darren Todd at Belfast Crown Court, His Honour Judge Kinney told the would-be killer that as he still posed a danger to his former partner Mary McReynolds, a woman 17 years his senior.

As such, the judge told him, when he had served four years in jail it would be up to the Parole Commissioners to decide whether to release him or not, adding that even when released he would be on supervised licence for an extra two years in order to protect the public, and Ms McReynolds specifically.

"He acted with disregard for the consequences and without any degree of self-control," said the judge adding that Todd had "taken the time to arm himself with a knife and carried out the attack, inflicting 26 wounds, in a public place, frequented by families and witnessed by a number of people including children."

Last April when he was due to stand trial Todd, from Pound Street in Newtownards, instead pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Ms McReynolds on August 11 2011.

An earlier court had heard how the pair began their "unusual relationship" in 2008 and had had two children together but that it was "characterised by disharmony and volatility".

The relationship came to and end but Todd was concerned for the welfare of his two children and who Ms McReynolds, a mother of 11 children in total, was associating with.

Social Services were "heavily involved" with the couple with regards to the care of Todd's two children and on the day of the stabbing incident Todd, his ex-partner, their lawyers and social workers had conducted a meeting at the Grove Wellbeing Centre in north Belfast to decide where the children would live.

That decision, the court heard, did not go in Todd's favour and he became "extremely upset and distressed" and went to his car where he armed himself with a large kitchen knife.

When he got back to the centre he saw Ms McReynolds talking on her phone and when he thought she was laughing at him he "just lost it" and launched his frenzied knife attack, stabbing her a total of 26 times before fleeing.

Todd had been on his way to hand himself in to police when his car was stopped and officers arrested him.

Today, Judge Kinney said Ms McReynolds had in fact been calling for a taxi when Todd began his "unprovoked attack on this defenceless woman" who had to have surgery, and faces further operations to fix damage to her nerves and tendons.

Turning to the issue of the danger Todd poses, the judge said while he did not have a lengthy record for violence, it was significant that he had two previous convictions for assaulting women, one of whom was Ms McReynolds.

The court was told that although there were numerous aggravating factors - such as arming himself with a weapon, his record and carrying out the attack in public - his guilty plea and remorse were mitigating factors.

Judge Kinney told Todd that had he not pleaded guilty, he would have jailed him for 12 years but that he hoped he would undertake anger management courses and counselling while in custody.

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