The brother of Jennifer Poole, who was fatally stabbed seven times by her boyfriend in her Finglas apartment, has said his family are tormented by the thoughts of what she endured that day and that she spent her last minutes on earth with the "very worst of humanity".
Jason Poole told the Central Criminal Court on Friday that: "No one deserves to die at the hands of another person for no reason. No one deserves to be treated like Jennifer was treated. No one should ever think they can control a person and make them feel worthless. Nobody should feel afraid or scared of someone else".
Sentencing judge Mr Justice Paul Burns noted this was “yet another case of a violent attack upon a young mother by a male partner”. He noted that the defendant, 30-year-old Gavin Murphy, had a violent disposition toward women and had previously been convicted of an attack on another partner and her mother, where he produced a knife.
The court heard that Jennifer’s friend and neighbour Danielle Tuffy had heard her scream “Stop, please don’t do this” and that Ms Tuffy had shouted to be let into the apartment to help. “F**k off you,” Murphy had replied.
The court heard that the relationship between Jennifer and Murphy had ongoing difficulties in the months prior to the fatal assault. Family and friends had noticed injuries on Jennifer’s face and body and while she made “benign” excuses, her family were deeply suspicious. The day before she died her friend took pictures of her injuries.
In a letter of apology to the Poole family which was read out on Friday by his defence counsel in court, Murphy said: “I know that nothing I can say can take away the pain. Everyone knew and loved Jennifer. I cannot say how sorry I am for what I have done. I pleaded guilty to murder to show how sorry I am. I wanted to save everyone who loved Jennifer from having to go through a trial. I wanted to accept full responsibility, I will never forgive myself for what I did”.
Jason Poole also said in his statement that his family has so many unanswered questions as to why and how someone could take the life of another person who was always there to help others and who had a family and two “beautiful young children”.
The testimony was heard as part of an emotional victim impact statement read on Friday to the Central Criminal Court, where Murphy was sentenced to the mandatory term of life imprisonment for murdering his girlfriend Ms Poole. The sentence was backdated to April 17th 2021, when he went into custody.
Before sentencing the defendant, Mr Justice Burns said: “This is yet another case of a violent attack upon a young mother by a male partner, this case having fatal consequences for the deceased. Ms Poole was involved with the accused for one year prior to her death and their relationship was described as having difficulties. Her family and friends noticed injuries on Ms Poole prior to the fatal attack.
The judge added: “The accused appears to be of a violent disposition, having previously been convicted of assault causing harm to a previous partner and her mother, where he produced a knife. It shows his disposition for violence upon women”.
“Ms Poole received seven stab wounds, her neighbour witnessed it in part and that must have been a harrowing experience for her. The victim impact statements made were very eloquent, it is clear Ms Poole was a good and caring person, a devoted mother and was respected in her community. The loss has had a devastating effect upon the family, particularly her two small children who are left to make their way in the world without the love of their mother,” he concluded.
Mr Justice Burns finally extended his condolences to the Poole family.
Mother-of-two Ms Poole (24) was stabbed to death at her first floor apartment in Melville Drive, Finglas, north Dublin, at around 2pm on April 17th, 2021.
Neighbours raised the alarm and emergency services attended the scene before she was rushed to Connolly Hospital and died a short time later.
Her cause of death was haemorrhage and shock due to multiple stab wounds.
Gavin Murphy, with an address at Coultry Drive, Ballymun, Dublin 9 appeared at the court today for his sentence hearing, having pleaded guilty on April 1st to murdering Ms Poole in her Dublin home last year.
Ms Poole, originally from the Ballygall area of Finglas, was a healthcare worker at Beneavin Lodge Care Home, and played camogie with local club Erin’s Isle.
Earlier, the court heard that Murphy has 13 previous convictions for the use of a mobile phone whilst in custody, the unlawful seizure of a vehicle, criminal damage, burglary, the production of an article in the course of a dispute and two counts of assault causing harm.
The court was told that the two assault charges were against his “romantic partner at the time” and her mother, when a knife was produced during a fight.
Dean Kelly SC, prosecuting, told the hearing that Ms Poole's young son was outside at the time of the fatal assault and could hear his mother's cries for help. Ms Poole's friend and neighbour tried to break down the deceased's front door during the attack as Ms Poole screamed at her to kick the door in.
At today’s sentencing hearing, Detective Sergeant Damian Mangan detailed the background to the incident. He told prosecution counsel, Dean Kelly SC with Marc Thompson Grolimund BL, that Jennifer is survived by her two young children and was employed in Beneavin nursing home as a care worker until her death.
Outlining the events that led up to the murder, Mr Kelly said that Jennifer met Murphy in May 2020 through a neighbour and friend and they had been in a relationship together. Murphy moved into Jennifer’s home in Finglas “reasonably quickly” after their relationship began.
The detective said that Murphy was not the father of Jennifer’s children and that she had been in a previous relationship with the children’s father which came to an end.
Gardaí learned that Jennifer’s relationship with Murphy appeared to have had “ongoing difficulties” in the months prior to her murder and the deceased’s friend and neighbour Danielle Tuffy had observed injuries on Ms Poole on the Tuesday as well as the day prior to her death.
On April 17th, Ms Poole asked Ms Tuffy if she had heard smashing and noise coming from her home when Murphy was in it. Ms Tuffy told her friend not to return to the house but said that Jennifer came back and left her young son in the car.
Twenty minutes later, Ms Tuffy heard Jennifer screaming in a high pitch: “Stop, please don’t do this”. Ms Tuffy took Ms Poole’s son out of the car, put him into a bedroom with her own son and told them not to move before going to Jennifer’s house, where she heard Ms Poole shouting ‘help me’.
The detective said Ms Tuffy was banging as hard as she could on Jennifer’s door and could hear Ms Poole saying” “Kick the door in”. Ms Tuffy was not strong enough to kick the door in.
“Ms Tuffy then looked in the letterbox and was able to see Ms Poole slumped up against the wall, sitting upright and she saw Murphy but could not see his face,” said the witness.
Ms Tuffy then saw Murphy with a kitchen knife held up against the side of Ms Poole’s neck. Ms Tuffy was screaming “to be let in to help”.
There was blood on the wall and Murphy began to wipe something with a big bath towel, said the detective.
Ms Tuffy was still screaming to be let into Ms Poole’s house but Murphy told her “f**k off you”. Ms Tuffy said Murphy looked very strange, that his eyes were big and dark and his face grey.
Murphy walked to the back of the apartment, climbed over the balcony and walked across the road. Ms Tuffy rang 999 at 2.04pm that afternoon and they arrived ten minutes later. Ms Tuffy could see Jennifer lying on the ground through the letterbox, her top was slashed and her lips and face were grey.
Gardaí broke down the door and Ms Poole was brought to Connolly Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 2.55pm.
Seven stab wounds were observed on the front and back of Ms Poole’s body.
Murphy later told gardaí in his initial statement that he did not know what started the argument between him and Ms Poole. He said they were in the sitting room and Ms Poole saw “a blade” and it “got heated”. The defendant said the knife was produced by Jennifer and she “came at” him with it. “In a split second I must have used the knife, I must have blanked out. In a split second she was on the ground. I couldn’t look at her and just left. I hope she is ok,” he said.
When gardaí received confirmation that Ms Poole had passed away, Murphy was arrested on suspicion of murder.
The court heard that Murphy is originally from Tallaght and has a son.
Under cross-examination, the detective agreed with defence counsel Giollaiosa O Lideadha SC that his client had also said in his statement that he had no plan to or that he wanted to kill Ms Poole. Murphy also said in his statement that he was really sorry and didn’t want this to happen.
Victim impact statements
The deceased’s brother Jason Poole began his statement by saying that if he was to try and highlight the type of person Jennifer was or how her murder had affected them as a family he could speak in court about it all day.
He continued: “On Saturday April 17th our world fell around us. Jennifer was 24 years old when her life was taken in the most horrendous of circumstances. Jennifer was beautiful inside and out. She had a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone. She gave of her time to make the lives of others even better. Jennifer did not deserve the death she was given.
“She had a smile that would brighten even the darkest of days. Jennifer was one of the most caring people you could meet. Jennifer worked as a carer and later in a nursing home. She was full of empathy for others and always wanted to make a difference in the lives of others.
“Sports was Jennifer’s life and Jennifer played for her local club Erins Isle in Finglas. Jennifer loved this sport but when she met the defendant this love along with other aspects of her life stopped.
“Jennifer was also a devoted and loving mother to her two children. She would do anything for her children and also made it her priority to keep them safe. Jennifer’s children are also the victim of this crime committed by the defendant and the stories we have to listen to as a family about what this defendant did to their mammy prior to her death is what our family have to listen and deal with sometimes on a daily basis.
“Having a daughter and sister murdered changes you. It changes you so deeply, so permanently. It changes your soul; every fibre of your existence is moulded into something unrecognisable.
“On the day of her death we could not comprehend what was being told to us when it happened. It was so horrific. It felt like some sort of sick waking nightmare. You can’t imagine how anyone could do such a thing. But we quickly realised this was no nightmare when we had to go to Connolly Hospital to identify our beautiful Jennifer lying on a bed cold, blooded and being unable to touch her; not able to kiss her and not able to say goodbye.
“As a family having to sit down to tell her two children that they will never be able to see their mammy again because she had been murdered by the man that she had told she didn’t want anymore.
“We are left wondering when she realised she was in danger. We wonder what her murderer said to her. We wonder how long she was conscious. We wonder did she know she would die? What were her last words? Did she suffer? Could she and did she cry out for help? Did she know that she would never see her family or children ever again?”
“This is our life sentence, for us there will be no parole. We have so many unanswered questions as to why and how someone could take the life of another person who was always there to help others, who had a family and two beautiful young children.
“At Jennifer’s graveside we often sit and stare in disbelief at her name on her headstone and ask ourselves if she is really dead. It doesn’t seem real. She had so much to live for and we had so much to do together.”
A second victim impact statement was read to the court by Ms Poole’s other brother, David Poole. He told the court that Jennifer’s two children had lost “a devoted mother who they adored” and that Ms Poole loved them both unconditionally saying: “You could not meet a more caring mother who did everything for them and made sure they had everything they needed”.
“Their mother was robbed from them at the ages of seven and four. All they have left is memories of their beautiful mother and so many unanswered questions. Questions which we don’t have the answers to. How can we answer questions like; Why did he do it? Why did he always hit my mammy? Why did he break her phone and telly? Why did he put my mammy to sleep on the floor before?”
“When [Jennifer’s son] asks why his mammy was screaming for help that day while he could hear what was going on inside the apartment. How do you tell a four-year-old that he won’t see his mammy again?
“Their lives were turned upside down that day and one year later they still live in fear that the same will happen to them. They have nightmares about the things they witnessed and happened to them and their mother when they lived with her and the defendant. Both of the children are terrified to go to the bathroom alone or go up the stairs alone.”
Finally, he said: “Their lives have changed forever. The emotional and psychological impact of the murder of Jennifer by the defendant is something her children will have to take with them for the rest of their lives”.