Woman accused of murdering husband in Co Wexford found not guilty

Sarah Doyle had pleaded not guilty at Central Criminal Court sitting in Waterford

A woman has been found not guilty of murdering her husband at their Co Wexford home.

Sarah Doyle (32) from The Heath, Ramsgate, Gorey had denied murdering Philip Doyle (33) in the course of an incident during the early hours of Sunday January 26th, 2020.

Family members of the deceased shouted across the courtroom at Ms Doyle moments after she was acquitted, leading to gardaí to form a line separating Mr Doyle’s family from the defendant.

The week-long trial had heard that Mr Doyle was found outside the front of the house having received two stab wounds to his chest and died a short time later.

After starting deliberating on Friday, the jury returned on Monday and were told after over five hours overall that they could return a majority verdict.

The jury of seven women and five men returned its not guilty finding after just over six hours total deliberations.

The couple, originally from Bray in Co Wicklow, had married six months prior to the incident and had two sons together, while Mr Doyle also had a daughter.

Patrick Gageby SC for Ms Doyle had earlier said there was a “history of abuse” in the relationship and said that her “producing a knife was a last resort”.

Ms Doyle told gardaí that Mr Doyle had “dragged” her down the stairs by the hair when she returned home on the night of the incident, and that she was “punched” by her husband.

One neighbour of the couple said he had seen Mr Doyle give his wife “a slap on the head” one day when he saw them arguing, while another said she saw Ms Doyle with bruising on two separate occasions. One day she had a bruise on her arm and on another day she had a black eye.

Paul Green SC, prosecuting, said the couple had an argument which started upstairs and moved downstairs, before Ms Doyle obtained a knife and used it against her husband.

He said it was an unlawful killing that “cannot be justified on the basis of a proportionate use of force”.

On the weekend of the incident, Mr Doyle’s parents, Jackie and David Doyle, visited the couple’s home outside Gorey.

Jackie Doyle and Sarah Doyle went out socialising in Gorey on Saturday but came home separately.

The jury heard that Jackie Doyle told her son “don’t ask” when she returned, with phone calls and two texts following between Mr Doyle and Sarah Doyle. Two texts from Mr Doyle said: “where the f*ck are you” and “if you wake any of the kids you’ll be sleeping in the front garden”.

Two of the neighbours said they heard Ms Doyle shouting “self-defence” following Mr Doyle collapsing in the front garden of the house.

Gardaí took photographs of bruising to Ms Doyle’s nose and arm after she was detained.

In evidence from Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster, the court heard that the first strike was a “rapidly fatal wound” from a kitchen knife 19.5cm in length, causing a wound 16.5cm in depth.

It cut into the membranous sac around Mr Doyle’s heart along with his right ventricle, causing his death as a result of haemorrhage, shock and blood filling the left lung, which also totally collapsed.

Ms Doyle became emotional as the verdict was returned. One of Mr Doyle’s family members shouted “Are you serious?” and others shouted at Ms Doyle.

Justice David Keane thanked the jury for their service in what he said was a particularly difficult trial and exempted them from jury service for 10 years.