Tuesday 21 November 2017

Ex-boyfriend begged accused to stop fatal knife attack, trial told

Ann Healy

A WOMAN who denies murdering her former boyfriend, admitted "prodding" him repeatedly with a knife while she straddled his body on the ground, a court heard.

Maura Thornton (31), of Inverin, Connemara, denies murdering Kevin Joyce (59) at an apartment at Upper Salthill, Galway on July 31, 2011.

On the second day of her trial at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Galway, the jury heard that Ms Thornton admitted in interview that she had carried out a frenzied and violent attack on Mr Joyce, an American national, because she was in a rage.

She said they had had a brief sexual relationship and when she broke up with him in either April or May, he began stalking her and was infatuated with her.

She said he had been ringing her all day and had come to the window of her apartment around 10pm that night.

She was embarrassed because her mother, Breege Ridge Thornton and her mother's partner, Brendan Lydon, were present. She said she picked up the knife from the coffee table and went outside.

Detective Tom Flaherty gave evidence the accused told him she only meant to give Mr Joyce a few "prods" with the knife to make him go away and she never intended to kill him.

The court heard that she said: "I remember prodding and prodding him. I stabbed him in the upper body.

"I just couldn't stop. When I was prodding him, I was in a rage but I didn't want to kill him. I just didn't want to be moved from the apartment.

"I didn't see blood coming from his wounds because it was dark. He said to me, 'Maura, don't do this', and 'Maura, stop'. He was already on the ground when I prodded him," she said during interview.


Detective Flaherty said she told him that the "prods" got more forceful as it went on.

"I wasn't sure if I was getting the jacket or the body. Yes, I wanted to get the body.

"I didn't want to kill him. I just wanted him to leave and he wouldn't."

Detective Mick Staunton said during a second interview, Thornton said "sure I killed him" when he asked her about the circumstances surrounding Mr Joyce's death.

"I didn't want to. I didn't mean to. He is barred from my apartment. The landlord told me that if he came around, I would have to leave the apartment. My intention was just to hurt him. I was sick of him coming round."

The court heard that Ms Thornton also told the detective: "I was stabbing him for about five minutes.

"He was getting weaker between each stab but he was a bit of an actor and I didn't realise he was getting weak.

"He said: 'Please stop' but I continued to stab him after he said that."

Thornton admitted knowing the vital organs were situated in the upper body and that she stabbed the victim in that area.

"I didn't want to kill him. I just lost it.

"I can't believe he is dead. I thought he was playing up," she added.

Both detectives told the jury she broke down crying on a number of occasions and expressed genuine remorse.

Dr Dennis Higgins was called to Galway garda station shortly after Thornton's arrest that Sunday night and he deemed her medically unfit to be interviewed until the following morning.

The trial continues today before Mr Justice Barry White.

Irish Independent

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