Belfast Telegraph

Belfast woman jailed for stabbing partner in neck

Michelle Devlin pleaded guilty to the offence (stock photo)
Michelle Devlin pleaded guilty to the offence (stock photo)

By John Cassidy

A Belfast woman has been jailed for 18 months after she admitted stabbing her partner in the neck with a knife.

Michelle Devlin (33), from the Shore Road in the city, pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to commit grievous bodily harm and possession of an offensive weapon with intent.

Prosecuting lawyer Philip Henry told Belfast Crown Court that the emergency services received a 999 call from Devlin on August 10, 2018.

During the call, she told an operator that she had stabbed her partner, Rory Forester, in the neck in a flat where they had been drinking bottles of vodka and cider with another female.

Mr Henry said that the victim "is now sadly deceased'' and had died from an unrelated matter. He added that the stabbing was classified as a "domestic violence incident''.

Emergency crews who arrived at the flat said Devlin smelt of alcohol and there was "blood on on her right arm and hand and also on her clothing''.

Police also attended and one officer said he observed a "knife lying on the kitchen floor with blood on the blade''.

Despite admitting on the 999 call to stabbing Mr Forester, Judge Kevin Finnegan QC heard that Devlin made a "no comment'' interview to police after her arrest.

The court was told that the victim later made a statement to police saying Michelle Devlin "did not stab me'' and claimed he had "fallen on a knife''.

Mr Henry said Devlin had a conviction for wounding a previous partner dating back to December 2013.

A pre-sentence report described Devlin as posing a high risk of re-offending and added that she "posed a significant risk of violence'' while under the influence of alcohol.

The prosecutor asked for Violent Offences Prevention Order (VOPO) to be put in place for five years with a number of conditions, one of which included that Devlin must inform her designated risk manager of any future relationship and must inform any future partner of her violent behaviour.

Defence barrister Michael Boyd said Devlin had been in a number of abusive relationships in her life, including the one with Mr Forester.

He told the court the December 2013 wounding offence also related to an abusive partner who had hit her with a hammer and banged her head off a wall and a radiator.

"This was an abusive relationship. she fought back and snapped," he said.

Mr Boyd added that Devlin did not oppose the imposition of the VOPO, saying she was fully aware of its necessity for "the protection of the public'' and for assisting her with her alcohol dependency.

Judge Finnegan described the stabbing as a "serious case'' but said that, although he was aware of her relationships before this incident, "this does not excuse what you did on this night in question''.

He added: "Having said that, my task is to assess what risk you pose to the public. It is with some reservation that you are not assessed as posing a high level of risk to the public. You clearly have alcohol problems but this does not excuse or mitigate what you did in my view.''

Imposing the VOPO for five years, Judge Finnegan sentenced Devlin to three years, divided equally between custody and supervised licence on her release from prison.

But he warned the defendant that if she failed to comply with any aspect of the VOPO, "you will be brought back to this court and there will be an extension to the length of sentence. Take your chance when you get out.''

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