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'The work of a careful man...' Bourke accused of plotting to stab his unfaithful wife


A broken man. Thoroughly and utterly depressed. Forlorn. "Losing it a bit". When friends and colleagues of murder accused David Bourke described his behaviour in the months before his wife Jean Gilbert's death, the consensus was unanimous.

And yesterday, it was summed up by his counsellor Geraldine Hallahan, who observed him as "somebody who felt like he was in crisis".

It was difficult to tell what caused Bourke the most distress as he sat in the witness box to give evidence. He broke down in tears as he recalled reading emails and letters sent between his wife and her lover Robert Campion.

"He wanted to be a father figure to my children. He offered marriage to my wife," he cried, adding he felt threatened and devastated by the fact that Jean was involved with another man.

"I wanted to throw myself off a cliff," he admitted, describing his horror when his wife told him she had "never really loved" him.

Bourke (49) has pleaded not guilty to the murder of his wife Jean Gilbert (46) at their home at Laverna Dale, Castelknock, Co Dublin, on August 28, 2007.


Closing his eyes, he put his hands up to his face as if to avoid hearing the words his wife had written to her lover. She had told him: "I have never felt about anyone the way I feel about you. I didn't know love like this was possible, I really didn't, but guess what, it's f***ing amazing."

Bourke made copies of the emails and letters, and kept them in a drawer in his bedroom. Later, he transferred them to his sister's shop because he "didn't want anybody else to see them".

In cross-examination, prosecution counsel Isobel Kennedy suggested that this act was "the work of a careful man".

She said: "You kept the documents in case you needed to rely on them in the future".

Included in one of the emails was his wife's "wicked thought", which she had shared with Mr Campion. She had, she said, two diamond rings for sale, the proceeds of which could be used for a trip for two to Japan, where they had first met in 1986. Bourke knew only too well the two rings in question. The first was a two-diamond antique engagement ring which he had bought for Jean in 1995. The second was an eternity ring.


Later still, as he recalled the tragic events of August 28, 2007, he convulsed with tears.

"I just felt very threatened. I felt very hurt. I just thought: this can't go on anymore. I can't take any more of this," he cried.

An uneasy silence hung over Court 2 as the jury waited for him to continue. Outside, the screech of sirens could be heard, the only noise competing with the sound of Bourke's sobbing.

Several times, defence counsel Colm Smyth halted proceedings to allow his witness to compose himself. It was no use.

Eventually, twisting a handkerchief in his hands, he turned towards the centre of the court where Jean Gilbert's parents and family were sitting and said: "Can I say to the jury, to the court, to the Gilbert family and my three beautiful children that I am deeply sorry from the bottom of my heart."

Jean Gilbert, he explained, "was the love of my life. I wanted to grow old with her". And, until June 2007, he had laboured under the illusion that he was part of a happy relationship. However, on June 15, when Jean asked him to meet in a pub and asked him for a separation, his world was rocked.

"I repeatedly asked her to reconsider. I said it's plain crazy to split up this marriage after so many good years", he said. Mr Campion's arrival into the picture made him feel "threatened" and he explained: "I loved her so much. I couldn't bear it.".

He told the jury of seven men and five women: "I never hurt her in all the time I was with her. I loved her so much."

Certainly, his depiction of his world crumbling around him seemed apt, with testimonies from his colleagues in Hibernian confirming how he became "a different man".

Clearly unable to cope with the revelations in his private life, he had been referred by his concerned employer to a counsellor. He attended four sessions with her in July.


In August, his friend Brian Hunt said, there appeared to be some sort of breakthrough. Instead of Jean's earlier demand that Bourke should move out, it was accepted that he would stay with their children while she moved in with Mr Campion.

Mr Hunt, a bank official, looked into the possibility of Bourke securing a mortgage to buy the family home outright. The house was valued by an auctioneer, and it seemed as if a viable plan was in place.

By this time, counsellor Geraldine Hallahan was away on holidays, and so Bourke's next appointment with her was scheduled for August 28. On that fateful day, Bourke did not show up.

The accused had spent that morning alone with his children at home while his wife went to see Mr Campion.

She returned at around 10am. Then, he explained: "I got hold of a knife, I went into my wife. I confronted her. I attacked her and stabbed her."

In a statement to gardai following his arrest, Bourke had explained: "I put it (the knife) under my jacket in the back of my trousers to conceal it."

However, when Ms Kennedy questioned this, the witness crumpled in his seat and sobbed: "All I know is that I lost my head that morning."

Ms Kennedy had a different suggestion. She told him: "I'm suggesting that you didn't lose your head. I'm suggesting that you were careful, analytical in your thought process."


Bourke had also told gardai that he had twice thought about stabbing his wife on that tragic day -- in the early morning and also while he took a shower after she returned home.

"I'm suggesting this was your solution," said Ms Kennedy. "You were going to stop her leaving". Looking aghast, Bourke replied in a quiet, faltering voice: "No, no, no, that's not the way."

The trial continues.

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