Wednesday 22 November 2017

'Butcher' who cut off artist's fingers during break-in is jailed for 16 years

Convicted burglar James Kenny at Blanchardstown District Court. He was jailed yesterday
Convicted burglar James Kenny at Blanchardstown District Court. He was jailed yesterday

Sonya McLean

A BURGLAR who cut a number of fingers from an artist's hand and used knives on her "like a butcher" during a break-in has been jailed for 16 years.

Judge Tony Hunt described James Kenny's attack on "a talented artist" as "unspeakable, almost medieval barbarity".

He added that the woman had been left with a constant physical reminder "of the horror visited upon her".

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Kenny (35) pushed his way into the apartment wearing a balaclava and took a number of items before binding and gagging the woman and later attacking her. He told gardai he had no reason to attack the woman, had a problem with painkillers, and had just wanted to get money.

The woman described Kenny using the knives on her "like a butcher".

She said she was sliding around in blood and felt her only option at one point was to play dead. She lost consciousness and when she awoke made her way to a local hotel where she collapsed and staff called an ambulance. The victim needed to be resuscitated on her arrival to hospital and had suffered three deep facial lacerations as well as life-threatening wounds.

She also suffered stab wounds to her neck, abdomen and chest.

Her ring finger and little finger had been amputated at joints and her middle and index finger partially amputated. Doctors were able to successfully reattach her middle finger but she lost the others. Her facial scars are also still visible.

Gardai recovered CCTV from the area and received confidential information that the stolen items could be found at Kenny's address. They also recovered a silver knife and black gloves from his apartment.


Kenny, of Eden Block, Prospect Hill, Finglas, Dublin, admitted aggravated burglary with a knife and machete at another block of the Prospect Hill complex and to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the woman on September 2, 2009.

The court heard that the woman is an artist but is now unable to hold a pen. She had an exhibition of her work in St Stephen's Green in 2006 to some acclaim and had illustrated a children's book. She had been planning to illustrate a further book before the attack. She has never returned to the apartment since the attack.

Kenny has a number of previous convictions for theft and a conviction from 1998 for a serious assault.

In that incident he broke into the home of a 58-year-old man with whom he had an issue and tied him up; when the man tried to escape, he stabbed him a number of times. When the man escaped over a balcony he turned his attention to the man's partner and stabbed her 10 times. He received a four-year sentence for that offence.

Describing the victim as "a person of considerable abilities and culture", Judge Hunt said that he found the inclusion of a children's book illustrated by her in the book of evidence as "very touching and moving".

He said that due to the "horrendous" injuries inflicted upon her by Kenny, her life was "irretrievably altered and society has been deprived of the talented and cultured person she is".

Breffni Gordon, defending, said his client had "for the first time, experienced a huge degree of remorse".

Irish Independent

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