Pauline Tully: I’m frightened my estranged husband will come after me when he gets out of jail
Pauline Tully has spoken of her horrific ordeal at the hands of her estranged husband, Pearse McAuley, and said she fears for her life when he is released from jail.
This week garda killer Pearse McAuley was sentenced to 12 years with four suspended for an attack on his estranged wife in which he stabbed her 13 times.
Speaking on Marian Finucane’s programme on RTE Radio 1 this morning, Ms Tully revealed the hideous levels of violence she endured in the attack in which she was stabbed in front of their children last Christmas Eve.
“I am frightened. I know he will serve his time but I am frightened. I hope he won’t ever come near me again.”
Ms Tully said she never suspected McAuley would bring violence to their relationship at the start of their relationship.
“Hindsight is a great thing. I first met Pearse when he was in prison and I was a Sinn Fein councillor. We got to know each other and a relationship began. I had absolutely no idea. He was very good company. He seemed to have a good personality. We planned a life together, we got engaged and we got married.”
He was released from jail for a few days for the wedding in 2003. Although reluctant to discuss her husband’s role in the murder of Garda Jerry McCabe, Ms Tully said she was conscious of Mrs McCabe’s feelings when it came to her own wedding.
“We tried to keep it as quiet as possible because I would have been conscious of her feelings. We didn’t plan to have any media attention at all. He had to go back into prison a few days afterwards.”
She said her husband assured her that he would “never be violent to me".
“He said that was one thing he would never do – hit a woman. But he also assured me he didn’t have a problem with drink.”
She said there were incidents while he was still in jail when she realised McAuley had a “temper”.
“You make excuses. I thought it was because he was in jail that he was like that. He was released in 2009. At the beginning everything was great. But I quickly released that he was drinking a lot more. I knew he was drinking on the quiet. But you put it down to a readjustment to civilian life. Everything would be going well and then there would be stress and tension in the house.
She said McAuley drank at home in the house and had no interest in going out for a social drink.
“He drank a lot at home and mixed drinks. It also became clear that if he drank a certain spirit, it didn’t go well. He could become very verbally abusive.
“There was a threat of violence. He would threaten to hit me. He throw his phone or he would threaten to smash the laptop. We had two small children and I didn’t want them to witness this. I certainly didn’t want them to think this was normal behaviour.
Ms Tully said there were there was an incident when she feared for her child’s safety.
“There was an issue when I had one of the boys in my arms – he was only one at the time. He was crying at the time. And Pearse was threatening to smash a can of mineral into my face. He held me down slightly and bruised me and I was very frightened.”
Afterwards, Ms Tully said MacAuley would apologise for his behaviour and promise it would never happen again.
“When you love someone and you’re in relationship with them, you think of the good times. We had two children. I thought ‘were the children better off with a father even if we go through some bad times?’ I thought because he hadn’t actually hit me, it wasn’t domestic violence.”
He said there were occasions when he had drink taken that she would be “very afraid until he conked out”.
She said McAuley gave up drinking “for a year” and things improved.
“I’m not saying everything was perfect but it was relatively okay. At least the fear of the violence wasn’t there. But he didn’t get the help he needed to stay off the drink. I pleaded with him to get help but he didn’t.”
Ms Tully said she realised the marriage was over when she was at a function in Dublin with MacAuley when he went missing and came back with “drink taken”.
“There was no row but I told him that I knew he had drink taken. That night we were back in the hotel room and I awoke up to find him going to collect the kids at 2am. I took his keys and he went mad. He tried to strangle me. I couldn’t breathe but I fought back and got into the bathroom. He hoped he would just leave. But he didn’t – he came into the bathroom and hit me. He tried to choke me again.
“I screamed and screamed until people in other rooms raised the alarm. Two couples came to my rescue. They hammered on the door. He opened the door and I ran out. I rang the guards. I got a barring order after that.”
Ms Tully said that McAuley had tried to give up drinking last summer and had sought help for his addiction. However, he lasped back into drinking before the horrific events of the attack last Christmas Eve.
“A friend had texted me a couple of days before Christmas to tell me he had been drinking. I had already invited him to spend Christmas with the boys and they were expecting him. So I told the boys he was ill and wouldn’t be around for Christmas. I was surprised when I got a text from him on Christmas Eve, offering to take the boys.
“I told him I knew he had been drinking. He said it was just a blip. I rang him to make sure he wasn’t drunk and he seemed fine. At around 11am, there was a knock on the door. I opened the door and he came in. He looked very rough and bad tempered. As soon as he walked in, he punched me in the eye. The two boys were looking at this.
“He was accusing me of seeing someone else. He started rummaging in his pocket. I felt the same fear I felt in the hotel. I was totally scared because the boys were with me. At least in the hotel, it was only me.
“I thought he was taking out a gun but it was a knife. He dragged me into the kitchen and told the boys to go upstairs. That was around 11am and he was there until 2.30pm. But it was a dreadful ordeal.”
Over that period, he stabbed her 13 times in a period of almost three hours.
“It sounds like it was frenzy of stabbing but it wasn’t. I remember praying to my deceased parents and asking them to help me and the boys. I just thought of trying to get them out. I knew he had overstepped the mark. There was no way I could talk him down.
“I thought it was the end for me. I thought if I could stop him using the knife, I have some chance. I can remember him saying: ‘if I can’t have you, nobody else will’.
“I remember him sticking the knife into me. It was such a shock. I can still see the anger on his face. There was blood everywhere. I didn’t know if it was going to be fatal or not.
“He made me sit on the floor so nobody could see me. At one stage, he came over and kicked me in the back. He boxed he in the head and the face. There was different times he would approach me to stab me.
“I would try and fight back and I ended up with a terrible deep gash in my right hand. You could see into the skeleton of the hand.
“He brought the boys down to say goodbye to me but he wouldn’t let them hug me. I can see them standing there now. I asked my son to ring 999 and he did that. He panicked and put the phone down.
“He kept demanding to know who I was seeing. In the end, I made up a name. I was afraid what he might do to the children if I didn’t give him something.
“The only way the boys knew I was alive was when I was screaming.
Ms Tully said her ordeal only ended after her estranged husband fell asleep in their kitchen.
“He tried to cut my throat a few times and he stuck the knife in my back and in my stomach. I was in so much shock I didn’t feel much. I didn’t know if I was going to bleed to death.
“He came to the house to do damage. There was no row or anything. I still can’t understand how he went from being controlled into the man who attacked me.”
She said her two sons are finding it difficult to accept that their father committed such a violence act on their mother.
“It’s been hard on them. The older boy is more aware of what happened. At times he is angry that his father let him down like that. At times he has bad dreams and has bad thoughts about what happens if he [McAuley] comes after us again. Other times he misses him and is sad that his dad is not there to see him playing sports. There is going to be sadness and anger. I have taken them to counselling.
She also revealed she has returned to college.
“I went back in February. Physically I spent about a week in hospital. I was lucky that none of the stab wounds damaged any of the vital organs – some of them came very close.
"My two lungs were damaged and had to be drained. Doctors told me that if I hadn’t gotten out, my lungs would have stopped working and I would have been dead. Lucky enough I recovered very quickly.”
She said domestic violence can take difference forms.
“Even the threat of domestic violence is domestic violence and verbal abuse is domestic violence. If you are in a situation where you are in fear of the person you are with, then something is very wrong.”
When asked if she was tempted to conceal the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her husband, Ms Tully said she had made excuses for her husband.
“I found myself making excuses for him – because of everything he had been through. For a long time, I thought that everything that happened between us should stay between us – that it should be between husband and wife. It took a long time for me to accept that.”
Ms Tully said she knew a “lot of people would assume that I was stupid for marrying him in the first place.
“You don’t think that. You keep hoping that things will change for the better. I am a teacher. I have been brought up well. I have been in third level. So I was thinking ‘what are students going to think? What are parents going to think if this comes out?’
"A lot of women would make excuses for the person because there is a mixture of love and hatred in the relationship. You do love them. You married that person for a reason. There are good times and you keep hoping that that will last. Until the next time."