Husband 'makes final act of love' by admitting he killed his wife
Published 09/10/2010 | 05:00
A 62-YEAR-OLD man has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his wife "in a final act of love" to avoid private details of their life being aired at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Thomas Breen killed his wife when he put his hands around her neck during a struggle after she came at him with a knife following an argument. He immediately rang gardai and reported what had happened.
Breen, of Willowvale, Ballybrack, Dublin, admitted killing Carmel (56) at their home on November 7, 2008. He has no previous convictions.
Insp Eamonn O'Reilly agreed with defence counsel Deirdre Murphy that there was "an element of terrible bad luck" in the pressure used by Breen would not normally kill someone. But his choke hold created the rare occurence of "interference with the nerves in her neck which caused her immediate death."
Insp O'Reilly agreed he was an "honourable man" left "bereft by the loss of his wife."
Insp O'Reilly told the court that Breen had said his wife came home drunk in the afternoon and later went for him with a knife.
A struggle ensued in which he grabbed her hands before "in desperation" he put his hands to her neck and she collapsed.
Insp O'Reilly said gardai received a call at 7.30pm from a man saying he had strangled and killed his wife.
Gda Martha Cleary found the door of the house open and, in the kitchen, the partially naked body of Mrs Breen in a foetal position covered by a black jacket. Breen had remained on the phone to gardai until Gda Cleary arrived. Breen told gardai his wife was a lovely person and he would always love her.
One of the couple's three sons, Trevor Breen, read a portion of his victim impact statement to the court.
"I have tried to stay impartial in this mess and concentrate on my own family and not take sides," he said.
He said he did not condone what his father had done and that there were times he could not speak to him.
"Should my father be accountable? Yes. Should he go to prison? I don't know. The courts must decide that."
He said he had been driving toward his parents' house that afternoon but in the end did not visit them.
"If only I had gone in that day; I will have to live with this for the rest of my life," he said.
He said his parents had been married for 40 years but drink had been a destructive force.
"They loved each other too much to part but loved to drink too much to give it up," he said.
Judge Patricia Ryan adjourned sentencing until later this month to give her time to read reports.
The court was told there could have been a number of legal defences to the charge, such as self-defence, accident or misadventure, but Breen had chosen to take responsibility for his actions.
Defence counsel Ms Murphy said he had also chosen to plead guilty to avoid having private details aired in court.
"His final act of love is to come in here and plead guilty to manslaughter," she said.