Community Constituency Crime Newry Newry and Armagh

Newry Man Stabbed Wife 19 Times As 12 Year Old Tried to Protect Mother

By Paul Higgins

A dangerous would-be killer who stabbed his estranged wife 19 times in the chest and abdomen while their daughter tried to save her mummy was handed a jail sentence of 16 years and eight months today (fri).

Newry Crown Court heard how the 12-year-old repeatedly kicked Peter McCartney in the face as the 40-year-old launched his murderous attack but he was so intent “he didn’t flinch.”

Indeed, Judge Gordon Kerr KC revealed how the girl described how her father’s eyes “were dead, like a shark” as he repeatedly stabbed his victim in her home on 7 November 2020.

While the defence had contended that McCartney had been suffering from a psychosis at the time which impaired his judgement, the judge said given the defendant’s record for violence and particularly domestic violence, coupled with the facts and background of the case, “to suggest that this man does not present a significant risk of serious harm to the public offends common sense.”

“I consider this to be an appalling case,” declared the judge, “it’s hard to imagine a worst case of its type.”

Judge Kerr said although he could have imposed a discretionary life sentence, it was his view that an extended custodial sentence was adequate to protect the public.

Imposing a sentence of 16 years and eight months with an extended licence period of four years, the sentence means that rather than being automatically freed at the half way point, McCartney’s potential release will be a matter for the parole commissioners to consider whether it’s safe to do so and under what conditions.

If he is still considered dangerous, he may not be freed until he has served the full sentence and with the extended licence period, the would-be killer will either be in jail or under supervision until 2041.

On the day his trial was due to start last November McCartney, originally from Newry but with an address given as c/o Maghaberry prison, admitted attempting to murder his estranged wife on 7 November 2020.

The court had heard previously and Judge Kerr summarised today (fri) that in the two days before the incident there had been an “acrimonious exchange” of messages where McCartney “conveyed veiled threats” about putting things on Facebook.

On the day of the stabbing, the victim told her ex to “stay away and never to ring her again” and she warned that their four children “were not going to be a part of your muppet show.”

“He responded by saying ‘really, you will see what muppets are made of soon’,” said Judge Kerr, adding that there had been a “history of domestic violence” by the defendant and at the time, he was on bail for assaulting her.

All four children were in the house, food had just been delivered and the victim happened to be on the phone with her sister when McCartney appeared in the living room and she shouted at him to get out.

Their 12-year-old daughter heard them arguing so she came out of her room to be confronted by McCartney standing over her mummy who was at the bottom the stairs.

“She kicked him y the face three times to protect her mother but he continued to stab her and didn’t flinch,” said the judge adding that while the other children didn’t see the physical, they witnessed the aftermath and their mummy lying bleeding.

The 12-year-old ran to a neighbour’s house to summon help and thankfully, he was trained in first aid.

The victim had lost so much blood she was in shock and there was so much of it the neighbour “was slipping as he knelt beside her” but effectively, “his interventions saved her life and he is deserving of public recognition” for his heroic acts.

Taken initially to Daisy Hill Hospital before being transferred to the intensive care unit at the RVH where she spent a month under sedation and on a mechanical ventilator, the victim was found to have sustained 19 stab wounds including a number which were so deep they had fractured ribs and perforated her stomach, colon, diaphragm and spleen.

Treating doctors and Professor Crane, the retired state pathologist for NI, had opined “there’s no doubt these deep penetrating wounds posed a very serious risk to life” and that without emergency surgical intervention the wounds “would have proved fatal.”

Unsurprisingly, the victim suffered significant mental harm in addition to her physical injuries and has been diagnosed as suffering from PTSD and Judge Kerr revealed how she experiences “terrible nightmares” about the attack which came close to ending her life.

Shortly after the attack, McCartney was found hiding in a neighbours garden having squeezed himself into a hiding space and as an indication of the level of planning, police enquiries established that McCartney was “scouting out” his hiding place a week before hand.

The court heard also that McCartney had taken a knife from the flat he lives in at the time and having armed himself, he walked the two miles to the victim’s home before launching his devastating attack.

Judge Kerr said the clear pre-planning and premeditation were aggravating features, as was McCartney’s previous record for violence including attacks on the victim, that he was on bail for assault, that the attack had caused such significant on his family and had been carried out in her home “where she was entitled to feel safe.”

Highlighting there were no mitigating features to the offended itself, the judge said while he would get credit for his plea that had to be decreased as McCartney had refused to answer police questions, had gone through three legal teams ahead of the trial and only admitted his guilt at the 11th hour.

Without that guilty plea, Judge Kerr said he would have imposed a 20 year sentence.

In addition to the jail sentence, the judge also imposed a lifelong restraining order.


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