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Tuesday 13 November 2018

Accused 'stabbed woman in the face at Luas stop', court told

Laura Kenna is charged with trying to kill Fionnuala Bourke
Laura Kenna is charged with trying to kill Fionnuala Bourke

A homeless woman on trial for the attempted murder of a civil servant stabbed a woman in the face at a Luas stop two weeks earlier, a court has heard.

Laura Kenna (35), of no fixed abode, is charged with trying to kill Fionnuala Bourke on Lower Drumcondra Road, Dublin 9, on January 3, 2017.

She is also charged with assault intending to cause serious harm, and has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to both counts.

Anthony Sammon SC, prosecuting, told the Central Criminal Court the key issue was Ms Kenna's state of mind.

He added that the jury would hear evidence from two consultant psychiatrists from the Central Mental Hospital and there would be a conflict in the opinions of the doctors.

Scarring

Mr Sammon told the jury that Ms Bourke, a civil servant, was walking home from work around 5pm on the day in question when she was attacked by Ms Kenna with a knife.

Ms Bourke's throat was slit and she suffered "severe facial scarring".

When arrested the next day, Ms Kenna told gardai: "I'm guilty. Yeah, I f**king did it. Is she still alive?

"Yeah I did it, I sliced her like you would a goat. You couldn't have stitched that up, I cut through her like butter."

On the third day of the trial yesterday, the defence called Dr Stephen Monks, a consultant forensic psychiatrist from the Central Mental Hospital.

Dr Monks told Barry White SC, for Ms Kenna, that she did not know what she was doing when she attacked Ms Bourke and couldn't stop.

As such, she fulfilled the criteria for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Dr Monks said Ms Kenna had schizophrenic affective disorder and, at the same time, exhibited psychotic delusions and hallucinations.

He said Ms Kenna believed she was receiving messages from the television and could communicate with celebrities. She also believed other people could hear her private thoughts.

He told the jury that two weeks before the alleged attempted murder of Ms Bourke, Ms Kenna stabbed a woman at a Luas stop in the face with a pen. Ms Kenna believed the woman had been saying things about her under her breath but it was "most likely" the woman hadn't said anything at all.

Shortly after being released from garda custody for the Luas incident, Ms Kenna said she thought she was going to be "eaten" and that if she didn't kill somebody she wouldn't survive.

For the prosecution, Professor Harry Kennedy, another consultant forensic psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital, told the jury that he and Dr Monks were in agreement on many matters, including Ms Kenna's diagnosis.

However, Prof Kennedy said Ms Kenna did know what she was doing and was not entitled to the verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

By Ms Kenna's own account, Prof Kennedy said, she had obtained a knife to rob somebody and selected a victim. He referred to Ms Kenna's comments that she had let another woman "go" and selected Ms Bourke because "she was only little".

Prof Kennedy said Ms Kenna had an ability to cease and desist which she exercised once she had achieved her primary goal - to steal Ms Bourke's bag because she had no money.

However, he said he believed Ms Kenna was entitled to a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity for the Luas stop attack - which was returned by a jury in a previous trial.

The victim in that case gave evidence of Ms Kenna's words which confirmed that she was responding to hallucinations at the time.

The jury of seven men and five women will hear closing speeches from the defence and prosecution today.

Dr Monks said Ms Kenna, who was previously a heroin addict, had reduced her aggressive behaviour after her admission to the Central Medical Hospital after the attack on Ms Bourke.

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