herald

Thursday 27 June 2019

Attacker who sliced woman 'like a goat' jailed for 10 years

Laura Kenna cut victim’s neck
Laura Kenna cut victim’s neck

A 36-year-old woman has been jailed for 10 years for trying to murder a civil servant as she walked home from work.

The judge described the victim, Fionnuala Burke, as brave and said it was "lucky that she is still with us".

Laura Kenna, of no fixed address, was found guilty last month by a Central Criminal Court jury of attempting to murder Ms Burke in Lower Drumcondra Road, Dublin, on January 3, 2017, and of assault causing serious harm.

Kenna had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. It was her second trial for attempted murder, after a jury failed to reach a verdict in October.

Stabbed

The trial heard that Ms Burke, who worked for the Department of Social Protection, was walking home when she noticed Kenna sitting on a wall outside a house.

As Ms Burke approached, Kenna jumped up, pushed her back, stabbed her body and slashed her face and neck.

Kenna then told Ms Burke that she would let her go if she handed over her handbag.

The jury was shown photographs of a large, deep cut across Ms Burke's neck which had penetrated muscle and cut through the thyroid gland.

Kenna later told gardai: "I sliced her like you would a goat."

Ms Justice Tara Burns said yesterday that Kenna's admissions had been graphic and had demonstrated an attempt to kill.

She described the attack as vicious, horrifying and frightening, and said it was "unimaginable in an ordered society".

"[Ms Burke] seems a very young woman and I'm very impressed by [her] victim impact report," said the judge.

"[It] can only be described as a very restrained report in light of the attack and the very significant and horrendous injuries she sustained."

She said it was clear that Ms Burke had not recovered from her injuries.

"The victim impact report, in a very mild manner, outlines the psychological impact it had on her," she said. She added that she was impressed with the "non-contentious manner"' in which she had outlined her suffering and her loss of safety and security.

"In relation to this assault, clearly she was a very, very unlucky woman to have been the random victim of this accused," said the judge.

"She is very lucky that she is still with us and doesn't have more significant injuries.

"In light of the attack she was subjected to and the injuries sustained, the outcome could have been very different."

Significant

Justice Burns said it was clear that Kenna was suffering from a significant mental health condition at the time, which might have gone untreated for up to six years. She has since been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and is being detained in the Central Mental Hospital.

The judge said that a headline jail sentence of 17 years was appropriate for the crime. However, after having regard to the mitigating factors of remorse, admissions and not requiring the victim to give evidence, she imposed a shorter term.

"Ms Burke, I wish you well in your future life," said Justice Burns before leaving the bench.

"You're a very brave young woman."

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