Woman goes on trial accused of slicing civil servant’s throat

Laura Kenna (35) pleads not guilty by reason of insanity to attack in Drumcondra in 2017

A file image of Laura Kenna (35), of no fixed abode, arriving  at the Central Criminal Court. Photograph: Collins Courts.

A file image of Laura Kenna (35), of no fixed abode, arriving at the Central Criminal Court. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A woman arrested on suspicion of slicing a civil servant’s throat told gardaí­ she “did it” because the Department of Social Protection was supposed to “look after people”.

Laura Kenna (35), of no fixed abode, is charged with the attempted murder of Fionnuala Bourke on Lower Drumcondra Road, Dublin 9 on January 3rd, 2017. She is also charged with assault intending to cause serious harm to Ms Bourke.

Ms Kenna has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to both counts.

Opening the case on Tuesday, prosecuting counsel Anthony Sammon SC said the central issue was Ms Kenna’s state of mind at the time.

He said the jury would hear evidence from two consultant psychiatrists from the Central Mental Hospital and that there would be a conflict in the opinions of the doctors.

Mr Sammon said that Ms Bourke was walking home from work at around 5pm when she was attacked by Ms Kenna with a knife. He said Ms Bourke’s “throat was slit” and she suffered “severe facial scarring”.

Det Sgt Ken Hoare told Mr Sammon that Ms Bourke had passed the junction of Clonliffe Road and what is known locally as ‘The Bishop’s Palace’ when she noticed Ms Kenna sitting on a wall outside a house.

‘Sprung up’

As Ms Bourke approached, Det Sgt Hoare said Ms Kenna “sprung up” and pushed Ms Bourke backwards onto the grassy area between the footpath and traffic. Ms Kenna got on top of Ms Bourke and started to stab her.

Det Sgt Hoare said Ms Bourke felt short, sharp stabs going into her upper body and could feel her face and neck being slashed. She thought she was going to be killed, the detective said.

He said Ms Kenna did not demand anything from Ms Bourke at first but later said words similar to: ‘If you give me your bag, I’ll let you go’.

Det Sgt Hoare said Ms Bourke managed to free herself and was at the front of ‘the Bishop’s Palace’ trying to stop traffic. She was screaming that she had been mugged, that her bag had been taken and that she had been cut.

He said an ambulance arrived at the scene and Ms Bourke was observed as having a cut across the front of her neck which was 8cm in diameter. Her thyroid gland had been cut and there was a suspicion of damage to the oesophagus.

Det Sgt Hoare said Ms Kenna was arrested the next day for allegedly “making a nuisance of herself” in Tallaght Garda station. She was identified as being responsible for the attack based on CCTV footage from Drumcondra train station.

Det Sgt Hoare said Ms Kenna was found to have blood on her clothing, a knife and items of property belonging to Ms Bourke.

‘I did it’

Upon being cautioned, he said Ms Kenna replied ‘I’m guilty. Yeah, I fucking did it. Is she still alive? Yeah I did it, I sliced her like you would a goat. You couldn’t have stitched that up, I cut through her like butter’.

Det Sgt Kenna said he cautioned Ms Kenna again so she understood everything she was saying could be used as evidence. He said Ms Kenna told him: ‘She took my house away from me, that’s why I killed her. Fuck her, from the Department of Social Welfare (sic), she’s meant to look after people’.

Counsel for Ms Kenna, Barry White SC, said the defence accepted the injuries sustained by Ms Bourke constituted serious harm.

Under cross examination, Det Sgt Hoare accepted that Ms Kenna’s comment in relation to the department was likely to have come from an analysis of documents in Ms Bourke’s handbag. He told Mr White that gardaí­ enquired into Ms Kenna’s comments about the department to ensure the attack was not related to Ms Bourke’s work, and no evidence was found.

Asked by Mr White whether he was aware that Ms Kenna suffered from a form of schizophrenia and was delusional and paranoid, he replied that he knew there was a history of mental health issues .

Asked whether Ms Kenna’s suggestion about State agencies taking property or a home from her indicated some delusional belief on Ms Kenna’s part, the detective sergeant said “that would be a bit of a stretch”.

Mr White asked the detective if he was aware Mr Kenna had stabbed another woman around the same time which resulted in a jury returning a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

“I believe so,” he replied.

The trial continues.