Garda killer told his children to say goodbye to their mother as he stabbed her 13 times on Christmas Eve
Garda killer Pearse McAuley told his children to say goodbye to their mother as he stabbed her 13 times with a steak knife on Christmas Eve last year.
For over two and a half hours, McAuley - who was convicted of killing Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in 1996 - stabbed, punched and kicked the mother of his children, Pauline Tully, in the family home.
He kicked her so hard that it caused one of her lungs to fill up with blood.
Ms Tully said she "heard air" coming from a wound to her chest after he stabbed her in the other lung in the family kitchen.
On the morning of December 24 last year, at approximately 11am, her children heard a knock on the front door.
Ms Tully went to see who it was, and when she opened the door, McAuley punched her in the face, connecting with one of her eyes.
She recalled how their two sons, aged seven and four, were standing on the stairs looking absolutely shocked, confused and very upset.
"They got such a fright, but he didn't care.
"Both of the them started crying. He told them that I had another man, to which my eldest son answered 'she hasn't'."
She told Cavan Circuit Criminal Court the look of "bewilderment and fear" on their faces will be forever etched in her mind.
McAuley then started rummaging in the pocket of his tracksuit bottoms, and she expected him to produce a gun.
However, he took out a steak knife, and then dragged her by the arm into the kitchen.
He told her that if he couldn't have her "no one else could."
She said he then said he was going to kill her before plunging the "dinner knife" into her upper chest, puncturing her lung.
"I didn't know at the time what he had punctured, but I could hear air.
"I lost a lot of blood. If I bent over the blood came rushing out
'I got a tea towel and pushed it against, where the blood was coming out."
In a harrowing victim impact statement read out in court, she said he subjected her to severe "verbal and emotional abuse" during the ordeal, adding that she was treated "worse than an animal."
She began praying as she was convinced she was going to die.
"There was a lot of blood. I silently spoke to my parents and asked them to meet me in the afterlife if I did die.
"I was so worried about the children who he had sent upstairs, and prayed that they would be ok."
She decided to try and reason with McAuley, but he kept asking her the name of the man he believed she was seeing.
The couple had separated 11 months earlier.
"I kept telling him there was no one. Every time he came with me with the knife I screamed and tried to protect myself.
"I received stab wounds to my hands from trying to protect myself. The floor was covered in blood.
"He called the boys down to say goodbye to me. He wouldn't allow them to hold me.
"I was sure I was going to die and not see my children grow up.
"I'm adamant it was a clear, calculated attempt, to kill me."
She said she decided to try and remain calm so as not to agitate McAuley.
He then took a bottle of Coole Swan, a liquor similar to Bailey's, from the fridge and began drinking it.
Every so often he would make a "scraping noise" with the knife along the worktop in the kitchen to frighten her.
He would then laugh, she added.
At one stage he came over and lay on the floor beside her.
"He wanted to take me upstairs, but I told him I had lost too much blood.
"Every time I moved I lost too much blood."
The court was told their seven-year-old son had a "high level of awareness" of what was happening downstairs.
When she noticed that McCauley was "nodding off" to sleep, she shuffled quietly towards the back door and managed to raise the alarm.
"I did it quietly because I was afraid he would wake up and come after me."
Ms Tully, a secondary school teacher, spent a number of days in Cavan General Hospital, where she was treated for 13 stab wounds to her neck, hand, chest, and abdomen.
Surgery was required to both her lungs, as one was punctured, and the other was "full of blood from when he hit me."
She said she's "totally heartbroken" for what her young children went through, adding that they were to the forefront of her mind, throughout the whole ordeal.
And while her physical wounds would heal, she added that it's the emotional scars that she and her children will struggle to live with.
"As a result of this torment I fear the nightmares and flashbacks, as well as daily memories of all I endured.
"I'm afraid to open the door if someone knocks unexpectedly.
"We're in the process of putting extra security measures in place."
She said she actively encourages her children to talk about their feelings, adding that her eldest child still experiences nightmares.
"In one he dreamt my head was cut off, but I was still alive. He's had discussions with me about safety, and the 'what ifs'.
"I've noticed that there are occasions when they have mixed emotions of sadness at the loss of their father."
Both children have received counselling, and her eldest son, aged eight, has taken on the role of her "protector".
"But I want him to enjoy being a child; he's not responsible for my safety.
"They should never have had to see this. It is something they will never forget.
"I try to be brave for my sons' sake and try create as normal a family life as possible."
McAuley was flanked by five gardai during today's hearing.
The 50-year-old, who is originally from Strabane, but with an address in Ballyconnell, County Cavan, has already pleaded guilty to four charges.
He admitted producing a knife during a dispute at Kilderry, Kilnaleck, Cavan, on December 24 last year.
He also pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning Ms Tully and with intentionally/recklessly causing serious harm to her on the same occasion.
McAuley has also pleaded guilty to threatening to kill her brother Tommy during the same incident.
Dressed in a purple jumper and black trousers, he was seen smiling at a woman sitting at the back of the courtroom.
Judge John Aylmer remanded McAuley in custody, and adjourned the hearing until next Wednesday, when he will be sentenced.
McAuley escaped from Brixton Prison in 1991 and after making his way to Ireland was a member of an IRA gang that attempted to rob a post office van in Adare in 1996.
Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, and Detective Ben O’Sullivan, were shot by the raiders with McCabe fatally wounded.
McAuley and three other men plead guilty to the manslaughter of McCabe in 1999 and were sentenced to 14 years in jail.