Man jailed for 15 years over bid to kill sleeping wife with a hammer
A FATHER of one has been jailed for 15 years for trying to kill his wife by hitting her over the head with a lump hammer while she slept on her birthday.
Andrzej Benko (42), of Ladyswell Road, Mulhuddart, Dublin, had admitted hitting Joanna Benko's head with the hammer at least three times.
However, he had pleaded not guilty to her attempted murder at the above address on July 5, 2010. Last month, the jury took under three hours to reach a unanimous verdict of guilty.
Mrs Benko is now confined to a wheelchair most of the time as a result of her injuries, the Central Criminal Court heard.
Now aged 35, she also has communication difficulties, will depend on full-time care for the rest of her life and is no longer able to look after her son.
Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy handed down a 15-year sentence, saying he accepted that Benko was deeply remorseful but pointed out that he had not pleaded guilty to the offence of which he was convicted.
Mrs Benko and members of her family were in court when the verdict was read out.
On Monday, Benko wept while he addressed the court to apologise to his wife and her family who were present for the hearing.
Benko arrived at Blanchardstown garda station on July 5, 2010 and said he had killed his wife. He phoned emergency services and gave sufficient information for them to attend to her.
On arrival they found Mrs Benko had sustained significant injuries to her head, the court heard. She was taken to James Connolly Memorial Hospital in Blanchardstown and transferred to Beaumont.
The court heard that the couple had been having marital problems, with Benko telling gardai that his wife had been taking and dealing drugs and spending all his money.
Despite their difficulties, Benko went out and bought her 10 red roses and flowers on the morning of her 32nd birthday and was planning to take her out to dinner that evening.
However, she was in a deep sleep and didn't wake when he tried to talk to her on his return.
He was disappointed.
He saw a lump hammer while looking for a vase for the flowers and thought about hitting her with it. Then, instead of bringing her the roses, he carried the hammer upstairs and hit her with it three times as she lay sleeping.
After the assault, Benko got into his car and drove the short journey to Blanchardstown garda station. He told gardai he had intended to kill his wife that morning.
"When I was going upstairs, I intended to kill her," he said. "Of course I'm guilty."
He alleged that his wife's drug taking had made his and their three-year-old son's life hell.
Mr McGinn read victim-impact reports on behalf of Mrs Benko's brother Peter Kaniecny and mother Malgorzata.
The mother said she had now given up her entire life to look after her daughter and was told by a doctor who treated her that she had been hit "many more" than three times.