Belfast Telegraph

Stab woman to be released to give birth

BY ALAN ERWIN

A pregnant woman jailed for stabbing an ex-partner is to be released around the time of her child's birth, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Senior judges reduced Anne Graham's prison term by one-and-a-half months after her lawyers claimed her case involved exceptional circumstances.

Even though the baby is expected to be taken into foster care, they argued that she should still have the chance to bond with it.

Graham, formerly of Queen's Parade in Omagh, Co Tyrone, was convicted of wounding Arun O'Donnell in April 2013.

The 21-year-old also pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice by claiming to have witnessed another man carry out the stabbing.

Last month she was handed a 16-month sentence, split between six months in prison and 10 months on licence.

By that stage she had become pregnant after forming a new relationship.

Although Graham was not due for release until August, the baby is expected to be born around the end of June.

Graham's legal team challenged the term imposed, contending that the mother and child's interests should both be taken into account.

Martin O'Rourke QC told the Court of Appeal that the exceptional circumstances involved trying to ensure the baby is born out of custody.

He also claimed his client has been subjected to threats since being sent to prison.

Ruling on the case, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, sitting with Lord Justice Higgins, set out Graham's troubled and chaotic background yesterday.

He said it was accepted that her baby is likely to be taken into some form of foster care after it is born. Despite this, it was contended that the court should ensure contact is maintained.

Sir Declan held that Graham should instead be subjected to a 12-month sentence, split between four-and-a-half months in jail and seven-and-a-half on licence.

He said: "This would probably result in the appellant being released from custody around the end of June, beginning of July."

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