Belfast Telegraph

Man who stabbed his ex 26 times in front of terrified children is jailed

By Paul Higgins

A man who tried to kill his ex-partner in a frenzied knife attack in front of horrified families and children at a leisure centre has been 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, he had deemed him as a dangerous offender.

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. But even when released he would be on supervised licence for an extra two years 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".

Todd, from Pound Street in Newtownards, was due to stand trial last April but instead pleaded guilty to 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 two children together but that it was "characterised by disharmony and volatility".

The relationship came to an 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 to the point where it was "an obsession".

Social services were "heavily involved" with the couple with regards to Todd's two children.

On the day of the stabbing, Todd, his ex-partner, 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 got a large kitchen knife.

When he returned he saw Ms McReynolds talking on her phone and, thinking she was laughing at him, he "just lost it" and launched a frenzied knife attack. She was stabbed 26 times on her upper body and arms before fleeing.

Todd was on his way to hand himself in when his car was stopped and he was arrested.

Yesterday, Judge Kinney said Ms McReynolds had in fact been calling for a taxi when Todd began his "unprovoked attack on this defenceless woman".

The court said she had surgery, and faces further operations to fix nerves and tendons.

The judge said while Todd 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.

Judge Kinney said it was his view that not only was Ms McReynolds at risk from Todd in the future but also "anyone caught within the web of his obsessional thinking," adding his release would "turn on his ability to deal with the obsessional thinking".

There was "little evidence to show that he will engage," said the judge who told the court although there were numerous aggravating factors, his guilty plea and remorse were mitigating factors.

He 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 in custody.

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