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Garda's killer Pearse McAuley is sentenced to 12 years for assault

By Greg Harkin

Published 03/12/2015

McAuley at court days after incident
McAuley at court days after incident
Ms Tully leaving an earlier court hearing
McAuley and his wife Pauline on their wedding day in 2003

A Garda killer from Co Tyrone has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for stabbing his now former wife 13 times.

Pearse McAuley (50) appeared at Cavan Circuit Criminal Court yesterday dressed in a purple shirt, purple jumper and grey trousers. He had already pleaded guilty to causing serious harm to ex-Sinn Fein councillor Pauline Tully at their home last Christmas Eve.

Ms Tully sat at the back of the court while the sentence was passed against McAuley, who previously served 10 years for the 1996 killing of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe.

McAuley, who is originally from Strabane but with an address at Apartment Two, Block One, Cavan Bank Walk, Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, also pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning his former wife, to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to her on the same occasion, and to threatening to kill her brother Tommy during the same incident.

Judge Aylmer said that the horror of the attack on Ms Tully had been "courageously" set out by her in her victim impact statement, delivered to the court last week.

The judge said the assessment of the Director of Public Prosecutions was that the attack on Ms Tully had to be considered in the most serious category. The appropriate sentence for the attack was between seven-and-a-half years and 12 years.

"However, I would place this particular assault at the upper end of that scale, bordering on the most exceptional and serious category," said the judge.

The judge added that there were mitigating circumstances in the case, adding that McAuley deserved credit "for what I accept is genuine remorse for his behaviour".

Ms Tully had refused to accept a letter of apology. However, the judge said he had read it and had noted its contents.

Judge Aylmer went on: "While not accepting that intoxication provided any explanation or excuse or mitigation, I do note, however, that Mr McAuley has a severe difficulty with alcoholism."

He said McAuley had spent three months in residence at a treatment centre in Galway in 2014, and that the attack on Ms Tully had taken place during a relapse.

The former IRA man had since attended AA meetings in prison, but he had a "tendency towards self-harm because of the remorse he has felt".

McAuley was reported to be an "exemplary" prisoner who had worked towards the rehabilitation of other prisoners.

He also noted that McAuley had used his influence to positive effect in the peace process.

"Taking all of those mitigating features together, it is my view that the sentence is 12 years in the serious assault matter, and I am going to suspend the last four years for a period of four years upon his release," said Judge Aylmer.

Speaking outside the court, Ms Tully said she was "relieved" the case was over.

She also called on victims of domestic abuse to speak out and seek help, but said she did not wish to comment on the sentence.

"This is something that never should have happened," Ms Tully added.

"I have to be strong for my two little boys, and that's what is important."

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