Tuesday 22 August 2017

Elderly man (74) who attacked and threatened to kill estranged wife avoids jail

Sonya McLean

An elderly man who said it was his intention to go to his estranged wife's home to kill her has been given a three year suspended sentence for attacking her and threatening to kill her.

Anthony O'Connor (74) burst into the home he had previously shared with his wife and shouted “surprise” before he launched a sustained assault. It came to an end when their neighbours, who had heard the woman's screams for help, dragged him away from his victim.

He continually threatened the 72-year-old woman telling her “You are going tonight and I'll go with you”. The neighbours heard him shout at her “If I don't get you someone else will. You'll get a bullet in the head.”

O'Connor pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Phyllis O'Connor causing her harm and threatening to kill her at Thatch Road, Whitehall, Dublin on July 19 2016. He is now living in a Dublin nursing home where he continues to receive psychiatric care.

Garda David Crowley told Anne Rowland BL, prosecuting that O'Connor, who was being treated in a psychiatric hospital for bi-polar disorder at the time, told his psychiatrist the following day that it had been his plan to drag the woman upstairs and smother her with a pillow but he thought she would be too heavy.

The accused said if he had managed to get the woman upstairs “she would have been a goner”.

He told his psychiatrist he had been at a meeting with his solicitor that day about their divorce. He was drinking in the pub later getting more and more angry because she was in the marital home and he was homeless.

O'Connor admitted that he had “got it into my head to kill her”. He said he waited outside the house until no one was around.

He said he told his wife “I'll have you now” and “You won't have a minute's peace. I'll wait for you to kill you”.

His psychiatrist reported that O'Connor showed no remorse that day and was still angry with his wife.

Ms O'Connor was later treated for cuts and bruises to her face, neck and arms. She didn't make a victim impact report but has since secured a barring order against her husband.

Judge Melanie Greally said O'Connor had been prevented from carrying out his intentions on the night only because of the intervention of their neighbours. She said unfortunately at that stage the woman had already sustained a number of blows to her face and neck.

The judge noted that, although Ms O'Connor had not prepared a victim impact report, she could assume that it was a very distressing incident. She said she her marks and bruises must have caused her considerable embarrassment.

Judge Greally suspended the three year term in full on condition that O'Connor remain in an appropriately sanctioned nursing home, continue with his medication and refrain from having any contact with his wife. 

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