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Life for man who stabbed sleeping wife in throat

A Dublin man was sentenced to life yesterday for the murder of his wife, whom he stabbed in the throat while she lay sleeping.

Brian Vickers (43), of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin, pleaded guilty yesterday to murdering his wife, Joan Vickers, a mother of four, on April 20, 2009.

Her elderly father, Michael O'Connor, was sleeping in a downstairs bedroom at the time of the killing.

Vickers, who has 10 minor previous convictions, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of his wife last Tuesday. His trial was due to open yesterday at the Central Criminal Court but, following a delay yesterday morning, Mr Justice John Edwards rearraigned him and Vickers replied "guilty". A loud sigh escaped from his family.

The court heard that shortly after the stabbing Vickers rang his brother John, saying: "I'm after crossing the line with Joan. Help. What am I going to do?"

His brother immediately replied: "I knew you were going to do that," before telling Vickers that he had two choices -- he could go to "the madhouse or the garda station".

The brothers then went to Raheny garda station.

Gardai subsequently went to the house where they discovered Joan Vickers's body lying on her bed, with "very heavy bleeding" and wounds to the throat. Her left hand was raised over her head, clutching the broken blade of a bread knife.

She died from stab wounds to the throat and asphyxia. State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy said both jugular veins had been cut, the left completely severed. The findings of asphyxia were consistent with her throat being gripped or else from her assailant sitting astride her while inflicting the wounds.

The couple had had various periods of separation and fallings out.

The court heard that Vickers was a "very jealous person" who had imagined goings-on between his wife and an old boyfriend. Alcohol was a "dominant feature" in his life.

On the night of the stabbing, the couple went to the pub with another couple to watch a football match.

Vickers drank eight or nine pints of beer and had four or five lines of cocaine.

However, he subsequently tested negative for the drug, meaning he had been sold something that wasn't cocaine or contained a very low amount.

Vickers told gardai that after coming home that night his wife had gone to bed. He knocked on her bedroom door, asking if he could stay and Joan said he could.

When he began to rub his wife's back, she told him to get away from her.

"Another rejection," thought Vickers as he later told gardai.

His mind began to race and he began to think of "all the things Joan had done wrong on me".

"I just lost it. I ran downstairs and grabbed a knife and stuck it in her throat." His wife was lying on her side, asleep at the time, he said.

Vickers's barrister, Michael O'Higgins, said his client was a good father and expressed great remorse. He had loved his wife and she had loved him.

In a victim impact statement, Ms Vickers's brother, Stephen O'Connor, said his family had lost a daughter, sister, aunt, niece, mother and grandmother. They miss her "cheeky smile".

Her traumatised children had not only lost a mother but also their home environment.

Joan's father is now quiet and withdrawn, while her sister, Catherine, is heartbroken.

Mr O'Connor called for the maximum sentence to be imposed on those "cowards who victimise women".

The mandatory life sentence was imposed by Mr Justice Edwards, commending the family for their great dignity in the face of a terrible tragedy.

Afterwards, John Matthews, an elderly friend of Ms Vickers's father, spoke on behalf of the family, saying Joan had died a horrific death.

The family thanked the gardai and asked for the press to observe their wish for privacy.

Source Irish Independent

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