Family of man stabbed to death by girlfriend in front of teenage son furious after she walks free from jail
Published 07/06/2016 | 08:57
The family of a man stabbed to death by his girlfriend has denounced the criminal justice system as "failing victims" after his killer walked free having served just six years in jail.
They said that Angeline Mitchell, who killed 44-year-old Tony Robin in front of his teenage son, was "a very dangerous woman" who should be behind bars.
Last week she was sentenced to 10 years for her partner's manslaughter in 2009 - five years in jail with the other five on licence. Due to time served, she walked free after the hearing.
Mr Robin's sister Kim said: "My family is seeking an urgent meeting with the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to voice our deep concern with aspects of this trial.
"We are devastated at the outcome. This vicious, violent woman belongs behind bars for a considerable period.
"I saw my brother in the coffin, and the horrific injuries she inflicted on him will be etched forever on my mind.
"From what we heard during two murder trials, my family believes she is a danger to society. We are not prepared to roll over and let Tony's brutal death now be swept under the carpet. We will take this to the highest levels we can."
A spokesman for the PPS last night said the body had agreed to meet the family.
Mitchell was unanimously convicted of her partner's murder by a jury in 2010.
However, her conviction was overturned for legal reasons and a retrial was ordered.
At her second trial the 44-year-old mother pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but denied murder.
A jury acquitted her of murder by unanimous verdict last month.
Medical experts agreed that at the time of the killing she had been suffering from "an abnormality of mind - alcohol dependence syndrome".
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Treacy said this had impaired her mental responsibility.
Mitchell stabbed Mr Robin five times in his flat in Fitzroy Avenue in the university area of Belfast on May 11, 2009.
She knifed him in the back, chest, head and ear in what the court heard was a drunken, frenzied attack. The fatal thrust caused an eight-inch wound to his chest.
The couple had met at a party three years earlier. They had a turbulent and volatile relationship blighted by frequent misuse of alcohol, rows, verbal abuse and violence.
On the night of the killing the couple were in bed when Mr Robin received a phone call from his youngest son Thomas telling him about a dispute between his big brother, 17-year-old Tony jnr, and the boys' mother. The couple left the flat and returned with 16-year-old Thomas.
A row then erupted between Mitchell and Mr Robin over how he had handled the incident.
She claimed that she grabbed the knife from the kitchen in panic after her partner was verbally and physically abusive to her.
Thomas Robin witnessed the stabbing on the landing and shouted "she's stabbed my dad" and "stop, stop, no need to do that".
The court heard that the teenager, along with the victim's flatmate Michael McGeown, wrestled the knife from Mitchell.
Mr McGeown claimed that at one point she tried to leave but that he barred her way as he made a 999 call for help.
When paramedics arrived Mr Robin was not breathing and had no pulse. A PSNI sergeant told the court that as the victim was being taken away by ambulance Mitchell allegedly said: "He's only putting that on."
She told police that she "did nothing", and initially blamed the attack on a mystery Swedish blonde woman.
The court heard that during her time in jail Mitchell was a model prisoner who had completely turned around her life.
"Your rehabilitation has been remarkable," Mr Justice Treacy stated.
But Kim said that she was completely disillusioned with the criminal justice system.
"We are not an eye for an eye type of family," she added. "In the seven years since Tony was killed we haven't spoken to the media until now because we placed our faith in the courts. We feel very badly let down.
"Our lives have been devastated since this woman stabbed our brother to death.
"It is infuriating to see her being able to walk the streets as a free woman while our 74-year-old mother is heartbroken.
"Mummy went to the first trial but decided not to go to the second. She never lets us see her cry, but we know what she is going through inside.
"During the first trial we watched her physically shrink before our eyes every day as details emerged of what Angeline Mitchell did to her son.
"And I can't even begin to describe the effect that his father's killing had on Thomas. It has absolutely destroyed him."
Ms Robin said she "couldn't praise the PSNI murder detectives enough - they were absolutely brilliant".
But there were other aspects of the proceedings which she wanted to discuss urgently with the PPS.
she stated that if a man had been freed from jail after serving just six years for killing his girlfriend, there would be public outrage. "It should be no different when the victim is male and the perpetrator is female," Ms Robin added. "I regret the day that Tony ever got involved with Angeline Mitchell.
"He never should have brought that woman into his and, most importantly, his children's lives."
Tony Robin was known to the PSNI and had a criminal record.
"He had convictions for theft," his sister said.
"There are five in our family. My mother was a single parent and we didn't have much money growing up, but Tony was the only one of us ever in trouble with the police.
"As a law-abiding family, we did not condone what he did, but his past has no bearing on his right to life and he is as entitled to justice now as any other citizen.
"When I went to identify Tony, I couldn't see the extent of the injuries as he was zipped up in a body bag. But when he came home in the coffin we were able to see what she had done to him. The top of his head was swollen up like a big egg.
"It was a terrible way to see your wee brother. I feel utterly powerless that I haven't been able to do more to secure justice for him, but I'm determined to keep on fighting."