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Saturday 17 November 2018

'I sliced her like a goat' - woman told garda after slitting throat of female civil servant, trial hears

Accused Laura Kenna. Photo: Collins Courts
Accused Laura Kenna. Photo: Collins Courts
Gardai near the scene. Photo: Collins Photo Agency

A woman arrested on suspicion of slicing a civil servant's throat told gardai that she "did it" because the Department of Social Protection was supposed to "look after people".

Laura Kenna (35), of no fixed abode, is charged with the attempted murder of Fionnuala Bourke, as well as assault intending to cause serious harm to the same woman on Lower Drumcondra Road, Drumcondra, Dublin 9, on January 3, 2017.

Arraigned before a jury at the Central Criminal Court on Monday, Ms Kenna pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to both counts.

Opening the case yesterday, prosecuting counsel Anthony Sammon SC said the central issue in the case was Ms Kenna's state of mind at the time.

Knife

Mr Sammon told the jury it would hear evidence from two consultant psychiatrists from the Central Mental Hospital.

He said there would be a conflict in their opinions and it was for the jury to decide which was more likely to be correct.

He told the jury that Ms Bourke, a civil servant, was walking home from work at around 5pm when she was attacked by Ms Kenna with a knife.

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

Giving evidence, Detective Sergeant Ken Hoare told the court that Ms Bourke was walking along Drumcondra Road away from the city centre.

He said Ms Bourke passed the junction of Clonliffe Road when she noticed a woman, Ms Kenna, sitting on a wall.

Det Sgt Hoare said that as Ms Bourke approached, Ms Kenna "sprang up" and pushed her backwards onto the grassy area between the footpath and traffic. He said Ms Kenna was on top of Ms Bourke and that the accused started to stab her.

The detective said Ms Bourke could feel short, sharp stabs going into her upper body. He said she could feel her face and neck being slashed and she thought she was going to be killed.

Det Sgt Hoare said Ms Kenna did not ask or demand anything from her initially but later said words similar to: "If you give me your bag I'll let you go."

He said Ms Bourke managed to free herself and screamed to try to stop traffic.

He said an ambulance arrived and Ms Bourke was seen to have a large, deep cut across the front of her neck. It was 8cm in diameter and had cut through to the thyroid gland.

Following a medical procedure, Ms Bourke spent time in intensive care. Det Sgt Hoare said Ms Kenna was arrested the next day in Tallaght for allegedly "making a nuisance of herself" in Tallaght Garda Station. She had been identified from CCTV at Drumcondra Rail Station and gardai were seeking her as "the only suspect".

Det Sgt Hoare said Ms Kenna was found to have blood on her clothing, a knife and items of property belonging to Ms Bourke.

He said he arrested Ms Kenna on suspicion of assault causing harm to Ms Bourke.

Upon being cautioned, he said Ms Kenna replied: "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."

Det Sgt Kenna said he cautioned Ms Kenna again so she understood everything she was saying could be used as evidence.

He said Ms Kenna told him: "She took my house away from me, that's why I killed her. F**k her, from the Department of Social Welfare (sic), she's meant to look after people."

Ms Kenna's counsel, Barry White SC, said the defence accepted the injuries sustained by Ms Bourke constituted serious harm.

Under cross-examination, Det Sgt Hoare accepted that Ms Kenna's comment in relation to the Department of Social Protection was likely to have come from an analysis of documents in Ms Bourke's handbag, after the incident.

"That's the conclusion I would have come to," he said.

The detective told Mr White that gardai had found no evidence that Ms Kenna ever had any dealings with Ms Bourke.

Butter

He said there was "nothing conclusive" to suggest the Department of Social Protection or any State agency had previously taken property from Ms Kenna.

Mr White asked the detective whether he was aware Mr Kenna was involved in another incident two weeks before the incident involving Ms Bourke, where Ms Kenna stabbed another woman which resulted in a jury returning a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

"I believe so,' the detective sergeant said.

The trial continues today.

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