Monday 20 November 2017

Daughter hopes father's sobbing killer gets 'chance to heal herself'

Maura Thornton told the court:
Maura Thornton told the court: "If I could give my left arm I would, but I can't"

THE daughter of a man stabbed to death by his ex-girlfriend has said she hopes his killer will be given the opportunity to heal and leave violence behind.

Michaela Joyce made her plea in a victim impact statement at the sentencing hearing of the 31-year-old woman who killed her father Kevin after stabbing him 18 times when he arrived at her Galway apartment uninvited.

Maura Thornton, from Inverin in Connemara, was found guilty earlier this year – at a Central Criminal Court sitting in Galway – of the manslaughter of Mr Joyce, having pleaded not guilty to his murder in Salthill, and will be sentenced tomorrow.

Thornton sobbed in the Central Criminal Court in Dublin as she described the Joyce family as gracious in its forgiveness.

"I'm not sorry. Sorry is when you bump into someone," she said from the witness box. "If I could give my left arm I would, but I can't."

Ms Joyce was unable to attend court and, in a prepared statement read by a garda superintendent, she said her father had a kind heart and was a forgiving man. "I wish, as my dad would wish, that Maura Thornton be given every opportunity to change the path of her own life, to heal herself and to leave violence behind her," she wrote.

Superintendent Noel Kelly outlined the events of July 31, 2011, the day that Mr Joyce was killed.

CCTV footage showed Mr Joyce climbing over railings to get to Thornton's apartment that night.

"There was shouting to get away and a staring match," Supt Kelly said.

"A knife was taken. She left the apartment and went to the rooftop."


He said Thornton was pursued by her mother's partner and was seen inflicting a large number of wounds. Mr Joyce sustained 18 stab wounds, two of which were fatal.

The superintendent said Thornton admitted her guilt and cooperated with gardai, but a doctor found her unfit for interview that night due to alcohol consumption.

Supt Kelly said Thornton had 27 previous convictions.

Thornton entered the witness box, sobbing as she took the oath. She described the man she killed as boisterous, gregarious and funny, a man who often spoke of his family.

"I suppose the relationship was dominated by alcohol from day one," she noted.

"I think about him often and it's funny today because one of the things Kevin would tell me, 'God is very good but the Devil's not bad when he has a day off either'," she continued.

Her mother, Breege Thornton, explained that the defendant, who had two younger brothers, was not yet seven when her father died in a car accident. She said there was a lot of violence in the home when she remarried a few years later, and that her daughter began cutting her arms at the age of 12, moving in with her grandparents at 15.

She said her daughter was very close to her brother, Padraig, who took his own life in 2007.

"It had a very bad effect on Maura, but she had been in and out of psychiatric hospital before that," she said.

Her daughter had been diagnosed with alcohol dependency and an emotionally unstable personality.

The defence handed a psychiatric report to Mr Justice Barry White, who remanded Thornton in custody for sentencing.

Irish Independent

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