Sunday 23 November 2014

Man 'sorry' for trying to kill wife with a hammer

Niamh O'Donoghue

Published 08/04/2014 | 02:30

Andrzej Benko (42) has been jailed for 15 years for trying to kill his wife by hitting her over the head with a lump hammer
Andrzej Benko (42)

A father-of-one has apologised to his wife for attempting to murder her by hitting her over her head with a hammer on her birthday while she slept.

Andrzej Benko (42,) of Ladyswell Road, Mulhuddart, west Dublin, had admitted hitting Joanna Benko's head with a lump hammer at least three times.

However, he had pleaded not guilty to her attempted murder at that address on July 5, 2010.

Last month, a jury took under three hours to reach a unanimous verdict of guilty.

Mrs Benko is confined to a wheelchair most of the time as a result of her injuries, the Central Criminal Court heard.

Now 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.

Yesterday, Benko wept while he addressed the court to apologise to his wife and her family who were present for the hearing.

"I want to apologise to my wife and child and also her family and I'm so sorry and I never was looking for reason.

"I know nobody has right to hurt anybody and I understand how strong my wife is traumatised and her family," he said.

Detective Garda Patrick Traynor told Mr Dominic McGinn, prosecuting, that Benko had no previous convictions.

Benko arrived at Blanchardstown garda station on July 5, 2010, and said he had killed his wife. The emergency services found Mrs Benko sustained significant injuries to her head, the court heard.

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.

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, he said she was in a deep sleep and didn't wake when he tried to talk to her on his return. He said 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, calling the emergency services on the way.

A recording of the emergency call was played in court.

"The problem is that probably I killed my wife and now I'm on my way to you to be jailed," he said. "Ring an ambulance. Maybe you can save her because I hit her by hammer in head."

GUILTY

Benko told gardai that he 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 said his wife's drug taking had made his and their three-year-old son's life hell, adding that the toddler had found a bag of her ecstasy tablets.

"I was afraid she would kill my son by him finding drugs," he said.

He was asked if it he decided to kill his wife to protect their son. "You could say that," he replied.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy remanded Benko in custody and will hand down sentence on Friday.

Irish Independent

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