Children beg judge not to jail mum for killing violent dad
Published 23/03/2010 | 05:00
THE four children of a woman who bludgeoned her husband to death by hitting him with a hammer 23 times pleaded with a judge not to send their mother to prison -- saying she already served her life sentence during the marriage.
Anne Burke (56) was cleared of the murder of Patrick Burke on grounds of diminished responsibility by a jury at the Central Criminal Court last December.
She had admitted killing her husband, but had denied murdering him at their Co Laois home on August 19, 2007.
At her sentence hearing yesterday, Mrs Burke's four children said in their victim-impact statements that they hoped their mother would not receive a prison sentence.
Linda Burke (22) said she understood why her mother had taken her father's life.
She said her earliest memory was standing at the top of the stairs in her pyjamas, watching her father hold a shotgun to her mother's head and threatening to "blow her head off". She said her mother was sorry for what she has done, and was living in a prison of her own making every day.
"But I hope it will not be a prison made of bricks as this would break my heart ... I love her unconditionally", she said.
In their joint statement, her older siblings, Natasha and Declan Burke, said they hoped their mother would not receive a jail sentence because "she has served a lifetime since the day she was married".
During her brief trial, the court heard that Mrs Burke, of Ballybrittas in Co Laois, was suffering from a mental disorder, namely severe depression, at the time of the killing.
The court was also told that the couple's 32-year marriage was marred by continuous and violent rows, fuelled by excessive drinking.
Mrs Burke described her relationship as a "litany of abuse" and said her husband had "murdered her" on their wedding night. She recalled how once he had kicked her in the stomach when she was pregnant with her son, but that he would "deny it all in the morning".
In her interviews with gardai, Mrs Burke said she started drinking at 10am on the morning of her husband's death.
He was asleep in bed when she said she picked up a hammer and hit him over the head. Afterwards she covered his body with a blanket before cutting her wrists.
She had written a suicide note for her children, but her youngest son found her and rang an ambulance.
In her statement, Linda Burke also said her father's death was shocking to her because she had always been convinced it would be he who would take her mother's life.
Natasha and Declan Burke said they loved their mother and never blamed her. "Whatever the outcome of her sentence we will stand by her."
Victim-impact statements were also read out on behalf of the deceased's brother and sisters who said Patrick Burke was "not the monster portrayed in the trial". They said he was a loving brother who had worked hard as a groundsman to provide for his family.
Mr Justice McCarthy adjourned the matter until this morning when he will hand down sentence.