Woman jailed for nine years for killing neighbour

 

A GALWAY woman who is eight months pregnant and who stabbed her neighbour to death in a row over a puppy has been jailed for nine years at the Central Criminal Court.

Mr Justice Paul Carney said he had to have regard for the "senseless reason" John Malone's life had been taken from him by Una Black in December 2006 and that the offence was "at the top end of the scale of gravity".

Mr Justice Carney said Black had "equipped herself with a knife" before going to Mr Malone's flat and that the resulting manslaughter merited a sentence of 12 years. He discounted that because of factors "favourable" to Black such as her plea of guilty and the fact that she had no previous convictions.

He noted that the voluntary consumption of alcohol and drugs afforded no defence in criminal responsibility nor mitigation of a defendant's responsibility to society.

The court earlier heard that Black had been drinking and taking anti-depressants at the time she inflicted the single fatal stab wound to Mr Malone's upper chest.

Mr Justice Carney also said that the dysfunctional nature of a defendant's background was of "minimal importance" in distinguishing their behaviour from other cases.

On Monday he heard that Black had suffered sexual abuse as a young girl. A medical report revealed that she was depressive and had self-harmed on occasion.

Black (26) pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Malone (42) at Walter Macken Flats, Mervue, Galway, on December 3rd, 2006.

The two had lived in the flats and knew each other for about three years. They drank and socialised together. On the night, he died Mr Malone had gone to Black's flat where she lived with her boyfriend and they had been drinking together.

Mr Malone had been looking after a puppy for her because her boyfriend's daughter did not like dogs. Black had had the flu for a week and Mr Malone was angry that she had not been to his flat to walk or look after the dog.

He told Black he had sold the dog for €135 and then left to return to his own home. She became upset and followed him to retrieve the dog. The pair struggled and she left the scene, armed herself with a knife and returned for her dog.

She told gardaí she simply wished to scare Mr Malone and keep him away from her. They struggled a second time and Mr Malone was fatally injured at about 5.30am.

Black rang the emergency services and told them she had seen men fighting and that one was lying on the ground. Medics found Mr Malone lying face down in a pool of blood. He was taken to hospital and pronounced dead.

Black was arrested and told gardaí that Mr Malone had produced the knife but later admitted that it was she who brought the weapon to the scene.

She was due to be tried for murder in April 2008 when the Central Criminal Court sat in Galway but did not show up. She had gone to Wales and a European Arrest Warrant was issued for her. She returned to the jurisdiction voluntarily and has been in custody since April 11th, 2008.

The Director of Public Prosecutions then accepted a plea of guilty of manslaughter.

She was pregnant at the time of the aborted trial and said she could not face it in her condition. She will now give birth in custody and her child will be taken from her after 12 months.

Outside court yesterday, Mr Malone's sister Josephine said she was "happy enough" with the nine-year sentence but added, "at the end of the day that won't bring our brother back".

Mr Malone, originally from Tullamore, Co Offaly, was a single man living on disability benefit. He had also suffered from depression.

His son Jonathan (18) described his father as "a nice man, a lovely person who would do anything for you".