| 15.2°C Dublin

Man tried to murder wife with hammer

A 42-year-old man has been found guilty of attempting to murder his sleeping wife by hitting her over her head with a hammer on the morning of her birthday.

Andrzej Benko (42) of Ladyswell Road, Mulhuddert had admitted hitting Joanna Benko's head with a lump hammer at least three times. However, he had pleaded not guilty to her attempted murder at that address on July 5, 2010.

The four-day trial heard that Mrs Benko is confined to a wheelchair most of the time as a result of her injuries. Now 35, she also has communication difficulties and will depend on full-time care for the rest of her life.

The Central Criminal Court heard that the couple had been having marital problems, with the accused telling gardai that his wife had been taking and dealing drugs and spending all his money.

Despite their difficulties, he went out and bought her 10 red roses on the morning of her 32nd birthday, and was planning to take her out to dinner that evening.

However he said she was in a deep sleep and didn't wake when he tried to talk to her on his return. He said he was disappointed.

He saw a hammer while looking for a vase for the flowers and thought about hitting her with it. Then he carried the hammer upstairs and hit her with it three times as she lay sleeping.


The jury was shown the lump hammer during the trial, along with a photograph of 10 fresh red roses, which gardai found in a vase in the kitchen.

After the assault, Benko got into his car and drove the short journey to Blanchardstown Garda station, calling the emergency services on the way.

A recording of the emergency call was played in court.

"The problem is that probably I killed my wife and now I'm on my way to you to be jailed," he said. "Ring an ambulance. Maybe you can save her"

A garda forced down the front door of the house and found Mrs Benko having a seizure with her hands on her head. She was rushed to hospital, underwent neurosurgery and was discharged a year later.

He said his wife's drug taking had made his and their three-year-old son's life hell, adding that the toddler had found a bag of her ecstasy tablets.

"I was afraid she would kill my son by him finding drugs," he said.

"I thought she was going to leave," he said, adding that she had left him twice, taking their child with her. "If she said she'd leave and not take (the child) I wouldn't mind so much."

The defence argued that he hadn't intended to kill his wife. The jury was asked: If a man of his size had intended to kill his sleeping wife, why wasn't she dead?

However, the jury took two hours and 40 minutes to reach a unanimous verdict of guilty.