A 22-year-old, heroin-addicted father of two who cut an ex-girlfriend with a steak knife, was given an 11-month jail sentence in the District Court this week (January 20 ) but had it postponed for a fortnight for a probation report after the judge heard from his mother.
Judge John Neilan asked for the report on Larry Murphy (22 ) of Retreat Mews, Athlone, as he was less than satisfied with his chosen, methadone-led efforts at rehabilitation.
Earlier, the court had heard how Murphy had been out with an ex-girlfriend (not the mother of either of his children ) on October 4, 2008 and had attacked her on return to her home in Scotch Parade, Irishtown, Athlone in an effort to find out about her present boyfriend.
“He went to the kitchen and took a steak knife from the block and held it to my throat,” as quoted from the victim’s statement to Gardai.
“He cut me with the steak knife, hit me on the face, scratched my face and knocked me down again.”
Defence solicitor, Mr Padraig Quinn, told the court his client had no recollection of the attack and had “addiction difficulties”.
“He had huge problems with drink then and he’s just swopped one addiction for another,” said Mr Quinn.
“He can buy drugs but hasn’t offered a penny of compensation,” noted the judge.
Mr Quinn pointed out that Murphy was accompanied by his mother to court and she was supporting his recovery by letting him live at home, bringing him to the doctor, the Merchants Quay Project and supervising the dispensing of his medication.
Mrs Murphy took the stand and told the judge her son was not allowed out except to attend the Open Door scheme in Athlone and that all previous associates were banned from the house.
She told the court she was on good terms with the ex-girlfriend victim and that she bore no ill will.
“He went down the heroin road and everything went with it,” she said.
She explained how her son had dropped out of education between the mocks and the Leaving, had a five year old daughter and an 18-month-old son with two other women but had good relationships with both his children.
Judge Neilan thanked Mrs Murphy for her evidence.
“From my experience, I know the type of nightmare this can be but at the end of the day you have your life to live and your son has to address these issues,” said the judge.
“But I can absolutely empathise and sympathise with you having a son engaging in this sort of behaviour.”
The judge noted the length of time between the offence and Murphy’s first efforts to seek help.
“It was the fear of a jail sentence that forced you to go,” he said.
“This is a very serious offence. You were in a deranged state and it is fortunate that lady didn’t suffer serious or fatal injuries. The hopes of your mother have been dashed on the rocks of despair.”
Judge Neilan explained that it took at least five years of clean living to get clean off heroin, according to the director of the Coolmine rehab unit.
Having read doctors’ reports on Murphy’s condition earlier that explained his medication, the judge was not impressed to see the defendant choose the methadone option as opposed to cold turkey.
“You’re the father of a five-year old? That’s great for her with her father going round with a pocket full of prescribed medicine and trying to get onto a methadone programme,” said the judge, before sentencing Murphy to 11 months in prison, adjourning imposition until February 2 for an interim probation report into his progress.
“You are a constant worry to your mother and will continue to be so until she is returned to the soil of the nation - which I hope will be in quite a while.”