Monday 24 October 2016

'I’m only after murdering yer man next door' - man who stabbed pensioner during frenzied attack jailed for six years

Published 05/05/2016 | 18:04

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A MAN who stabbed a pensioner 20 times during a frenzied attack told neighbours: “I’m only after murdering yer man next door.”

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Lee Mitchell, (33), formerly of Windmill View, Letterkenny, later told gardaí that he had attacked Patrick McLaughlin (74) because he was the victim of a sexual assault.

Letterkenny Circuit Criminal Court heard today how gardaí found Mr McLaughlin covered in blood in a chair at his home in Carndonagh just after 10.20pm on May 30, 2014.

He had suffered 33 different knife wounds, had lost the sight in one eye and spent two months recovering in hospital.

The victim has been unable to return to his house and now lives in a care home, the court heard.

Mitchell claimed in garda interviews he was going to the home of a former girlfriend next door to Mr McLaughlin’s Ard Bhride home when Mr McLaughlin had invited him in.

He admitted taking prescription drugs and heroin before drinking Buckfast wine and cider with the pensioner.

Mitchell, a father-of-three, was today jailed for six years by Judge John O’Hagan for a Section 4 assault causing serious harm.

The defendant said in garda interviews that he had fallen asleep in a chair at the pensioner’s home.

He alleged that he woke up to find Mr McLaughlin committing a sexual assault on him.

The court heard Mr McLaughlin had denied the allegation.

Gda Dermot Kenny told the judge that gardaí were alerted to the incident by the parents of Mitchell’s former girlfriend.

They had said that Mitchell walked into their home and said: “I’m only after murdering yer man next door. I hit him with a crutch and stuck (stabbed) him four times with a screwdriver – how am I going to get out of this. I need petrol to get rid of the evidence."

Gardaí found Mr McLaughlin “gurgling” and covered in blood.

There was also blood splattered across the room.

Forensic experts found that Mitchell had stabbed Mr McLaughlin 20 times causing 33 wounds.

Mitchell had used a knife, a screwdriver and the handles of two pans. There was also evidence of cleaning agents being used in an attempt to clear up the blood.

During garda interviews Mitchell could only recall using a brush shaft and a screw driver during the attack.

“I know I stabbed him in the neck. I was in a frenzy," said Mitchell.

"He (Mr McLaughlin) was screaming and trying to get off his seat."

Peter Nolan, defending, referred to a forensic report which showed DNA from Mr McLaughlin inside the underpants of Mr Mitchell.

The court was told that Mitchell had 40 previous convictions, two for assault.

Mr Nolan said Mitchell had an “horrific” upbringing and had been abused as a child.

He had been in a crash and had received €50,000 in compensation but had spent it all in less than six months on drink and drugs.

Mitchell took the stand to tell Judge John O’Hagan: "I'm deeply sorry for the hurt and pain I caused. I'm really sorry for what I’ve done. I'm sorry to whole community. This is not me. I'm not that person.”

He said he was now training to be a chef in prison and wanted to start a new life when he is released.

The judge said the attack on the pensioner was carried out in an "uncontrollable frenzy."

He said that while it was not an excuse for the savage attack on Mr McLaughlin, he said there is strong forensic evidence to suggest something did happen of a sexual nature.

He added that Mitchell has completed a number of courses, and despite

the probation services saying there is a high risk that he could reoffend, Judge O'Hagan said he believed that Mitchell does have "genuine remorse."

He sentenced him to six years in prison and backdated it until July 23 last when Mitchell was taken into custody.

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