Friday 14 December 2018

Married couple 'lucky to be alive' after both are stabbed in vicious pub row following funeral

Man received multiple stab wounds in attack following get together after funeral of family friend

The Crozon Inn
The Crozon Inn

A married couple who were both stabbed a number of times by a man known to them following a get together after a funeral were lucky to be alive, Sligo Circuit Court was told.

The accused Patrick (Padraig) McMorrow of 47 Caltragh Crescent, Sligo pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Patrice McMorrow and Michael Harte and also producing a knife while committing an assault on October 23 2016 at the Crozon Inn.

An argument had arisen in the pub and the two victims were leaving and in the foyer when McMorrow followed them and stabbed them with a knife he produced from his pocket.

Ms McMorrow was stabbed in the chest and hand while Mr Harte was stabbed in the chest and back.

Mr Harte had to be treated in the ambulance at the scene for major haemorrhaging from multiple stab wounds before being rushed to hospital.

The court heard that the accused was the partner of Ms McMorrow's mother for in excess of 20 years and was very well known to both the victims.

There was no evidence of any animosity between them prior to this attack which occurred on October 23rd 2016 at the Crozon Inn.

Ms Dara Foynes BL (prosecuting) told the court that the funeral had taken place that day of Michael McGarry a friend of the victims and they all went back to the Crozon Inn for a meal and refreshments and the accused and his partner were there too.

Ms Foynes said an argument arose over the son of the accused, Gregory, 21, who was raised for a large part of his childhood by Maisie McManus who was also in the Crozon Inn and is a sister of the accused partner's.

Statements from both victims, not present, were then read to the court. Michael Harte said he had a couple of drinks but was not drinking heavily as he had to be up early the following Sunday morning. He heard the accused saying he was going to knock the teeth out of Maisie's head.

He was acting aggressively and pushing people and talking about Maisie. Michael said he had to push McMorrow away, Maisie was sitting at the table behind him when he pushed him and he fell onto tables and chairs.

Mr Harte said there never had been any trouble before with them before. He had known the accused for 30 years and there was no background to the feud and the attack was totally unprovoked and he thought he was going to die.

After he was stabbed, there was a ringing in his ear as he had also been hit in his ear. Then two men who helped him were putting pressure on the wounds when he was lying on the steps of the Crozon Inn before the ambulance arrived.

Mr Harte then remembered being on the operating theatre receiving stitches to his stab wounds.

Patrice McMorrow in her statement said that an argument broke out about Gregory, the accused's son, earlier that night in the Crozon Inn.

She was mortified and went to Michael outside to say she was going home. She heard McMorrow say he was going to put the teeth in the back of Maisie's throat.

Michael then hit him and she said to come on and get a taxi. When they were leaving in the porch she saw McMorrow come out and his eyes were bulging.

She said he had a hunting knife with a silver blade with blood on it and then she knew Michael had been stabbed.

She tried to pull the knife out of his hand and she said the accused looked her in the eyes and stabbed her under her left armpit. He still had the knife and she tried to headbutt him on the ground and tried to stand on his hand.

She had a numb feeling in her left arm and felt weak. She asked the ambulance crew to look after Michael as he was seriously hurt and told people not to tell Michael she had been stabbed.

When brought to casualty she could hear Michael roaring in pain. She said she thought when McMorrow attacked them that he was trying to kill Michael.

"He is father to my brother Gregory and I didn't think he was capable of doing this. I have 2 kids and my life has been turned upside down. I was trying to stop him from killing Michael," Ms McMorrow said in her statement.

Sergeant John Walsh told the court he arrived on the scene and saw blood all over the entrance to the Crozon Inn.

He could see Michael Harte was seriously injured and had a pale, grey look on his face.

He knew he had been stabbed to his upper body. Garda Brannigan administered first aid to him while he was assisting Patrice McMorrow and also preserving the scene.

He became aware that the assailant was Patrick McMorrow of Caltragh Crescent. They went to his home and then his brother's house nearby where he was. There was blood on his face, hands and trousers. He was arrested at 1:52am.

Ms Foynes told the judge words were said about Gregory which riled the accused. She said that Patrice, 29, was not involved in the argument but said she could see the accused clinching his fist as if he was going to hit Maisie, a woman in her sixties and she tried to pull him back.

Her husband Michael saw what was going on and pushed McMorrow who fell back on top of tables and chairs which were upturned. Michael and Patrice then decided to leave the premises and were seen on CCTV exiting the pub.

The CCTV footage was played in court. Sergeant John Walsh said the CCTV footage shows Patrice and Michael first in the public house and then picks them leaving the pub.

He said it also picks up the accused following them out of the pub and reaching inside his jacket pocket and pulling out an item and it was as the injured parties were in the foyer that the accused launched the attack.

He told Ms Foynes that the footage did not pick up whether it was a knife the accused reached for but that the subsequent attacks would indicate it was.

Ms Foynes said that there were a number of witnesses and a lot of people who gave statements. Mark McMorrow who is related to Patrice confirmed there was an argument and he didn't get involved. He was outside smoking when he heard screaming.

He saw Patrick McMorrow with a knife in his right hand. He said because he is tall he stood out.

Patrice McMorrow's medical report said she had a stab wound to the left side of her chest and also laceration to her hand and she needed a chest drain in hospital.

Because of the location of the stab to her chest there could have been a substantial risk to life due to the proximity to serious organs. As a whole her injuries didn't create a loss of functions and were not long-term.

Michael Harte's medical report said he had been stabbed three times in the back and chest and there was a laceration to his left ear. He also had a laceration to his liver.

His condition was unstable and he was placed on life support and because of bleeding was given blood transfusions and admitted to intensive care where his condition improved slightly and he was given another blood transfusion and a chest drain. There was a substantial risk to his life.

In her Victim Impact Statement read to the court by Ms Foynes, Patrice McMorrow said 23rd October 2016 was a sad evening because they were at her uncle in law's funeral.

"It was a sad evening and then the evening became even more dramatic when myself and my husband were stabbed in an unprovoked attack, I was stabbed in my left breast when the knife was plunged into my lung and I was left with a scar and also a scar as a result of the chest drain and a defensive wound to my hand.

"I have two kids and I'm in fear when I have to leave home that I will be hurt again. Normal people just don't attack people like that. Patrick McMorrow almost killed me and I have permanent scars on my body and mind.

"My confidence is shattered and my trust in people is gone." She said she had to go to counselling following the attack. "Patrick McMorrow was a partner of my mother who I had known 22 years. He breached that trust when he stabbed me.

"He attempted to destroy my life and I have not received a reason. I try my best to move on and will for the sake of my kids. I will never forgive Patrick McMorrow for what he did to me and my family," she added.

In his Victim Impact Statement Michael Harte said he was at a funeral when a good friend Patrick McMorrow attacked him.

He was stabbed five times with a hunting knife with wounds to his ear, leg and body and his left lung collapsed. He said he was severely indebted to the medical staff at Sligo University Hospital for saving his life.

He said he was scarred for the rest of his life and needed counselling.

His life was turned upside down and he is unable to describe how much. He said he also lost his father and brother in an accident in April 2017. "My life has been destroyed by the actions of Patrick McMorrow ," he added.

The court heard the accused had five previous convictions for minor matters. Mr Colm Smyth SC (defending) appearing with Mr Keith O'Grady BL instructed by Mr Tom MacSharry solicitor said it was a dreadful assault that was fuelled by drink.

The accused had consumed 12 pints on the day.

It was a domestic incident brought about by a suggestion about the rearing of Gregory his son which was a sore point with McMorrow.

He said the accused had alcohol problems all his life and Sergeant Walsh agreed he was unknown to gardaí before the attack.

Kathleen McMorrow, mother of Patrice and partner of the accused told the court she had forgiven her partner. Asked why by Mr Smyth she said he looked after her for 20 years when she was seriously ill and was very good to her. She said the loss of his father had a big toll on him as they were very close and he began drinking more heavily.

She put him out of the house last year and he went for help with his drinking.

She said the accused kept saying why did he do it and that he was very, very sorry for what he did. Mr Smyth said she was compromised in relation to her daughter and she said she was very sorry it happened and wished it didn't and asked the judge to take this into consideration.

Ms Foynes asked if she had seen the attack and she replied she had not but came out and picked Patrice up off the ground.

The accused was told by Mr Smyth that only by the grace of God the victims survived the attack and that he wasn't facing more serious charges in the Central Criminal Court.

The accused said: "I know Patrice most of her life. I absolutely regret it and I think everyday that if I could turn back the clock I would. I can't sleep thinking about it.

"I got on great with her and had no problems with Michael Harte since he started going out with Patrice. I never had any problems with Michael. It was a stupid argument with people losing their tempers and I wish I never went to the put that night.

"I apologise to Patrice, she probably won't talk to me again. I want to apologise to Michael for what I've done," he added.

Mr Smyth asked why he was carrying a knife at the time and he said that his son was being threatened by people in town.

They had taken it out on his car and house, slashing tyres and putting the front window in. His partner had made a number of calls to gardaí.

The accused said he was drinking heavily at the time and because his son was being threatened that was why he had a knife in his pocket.

He said Gregory had been in the Crozon Inn earlier and when the argument started he went outside and Patrice talked to Gregory on the phone to calm the situation down.

He said he had been drinking four days at the time and was sick at the constant threats to his son how he couldn't walk down the town without threats.

Judge Johnson said: "In the cool light of day you assaulted two members of your own family and not the people making threats."

The accused said he will regret it for the rest of his life and wishes he could turn back the clock.

Mr Smyth said he was lucky the victims survived as it was close to a double homicide and said it was inexplicable in many ways as to why it happened.

He said maybe it was a guilt complex in relation to his son as he was unable to take care of him in the early stages of his upbringing and he was brought up by a relative outside the family home.

He said because of the overprotectiveness he brought a knife with him and he was clearly not thinking straight and drinking to excess since the death of his father.

He said this was not an excuse but he asked the court to take into account his alcohol background.

"He is remorseful and in his Probation Report it indicates he is thinking about it constantly."

Mr Smyth said the accused was co-operative with gardaí and he realises there will be very serious consequences as a result of this and knows there will be a custodial sentence.

Judge Johnson said the accused has pleaded guilty to three serious charges assault causing harm to Michael Harte and Patrice McMorrow and producing a knife used during the assaults.

He said he was going to take time and adjourned until June 25th where the accused was remanded in custody to that date.

Sligo Champion