A DUBLIN man has been jailed for life for murdering his wife, whom he stabbed seven times with a breadknife after she ran from her home in a nightshirt.
Ms Martina Halligan (33) collapsed outside a neighbour's house after the attack by her husband Michael (38). Three of the stab wounds went right through her body, and one entered the left eye and penetrated her brain.
A jury of nine men and three women at the Central Criminal Court yesterday unanimously found Halligan guilty of murder.
Halligan (38), formerly of Buttercup Park, Darndale, Dublin, had denied murdering his wife at that address on May 5th, 1996.
As Mr Justice Morris passed sentence, Ms Halligan's mother sobbed loudly and was helped from the court by relatives.
Halligan admitted in evidence that he was responsible for his wife's death but said he had no recollection of stabbing her. "I feel terrible about it. I'd like to apologise to the family for it as well."
The trial heard the Halligans married in 1994 but the relationship quickly went sour. Ms Halligan had made complaints to gardai about her husband, alleging assault, and had secured a barring order against him.
He alleged she treated his two children differently from her own two and also said he disapproved of some of her women friends, who were separated from their husbands. He claimed she made false allegations to secure the barring orders.
He said it preyed on his mind that his wife was in the house in which he had invested a considerable amount of money and time, while he and his children were living in a temporary flat in England.
Prosecuting counsel Mr Gregory Murphy said it was the State's case that Halligan left his home in England in premeditated fashion with a knife "with a view to getting rid of the problem in his life - his wife Martina".
Halligan and his two children went to Darndale early in the morning of May 5th, 1996. He cut, the telephone wires to the house, put a bread knife down the back of his jeans and knocked at the door, to be admitted by his wife.
There was an argument shortly afterwards and a neighbour heard a shout "Somebody help me, he is trying to kill me."
Ms Halligan fled the house, chased by her husband, and made for another house in Darndale. The woman there heard glass smashing and came downstairs to find Ms Halligan lying outside, covered in blood. She appeared dead.
Halligan surrendered to gardai at Raheny Garda station later that morning.
He told gardai he could not remember stabbing her. "I think I must have stabbed Martina. I know I told my da that I had killed her. My recollection is that I said: `I think I killed her,' yet I am now saying that I have no recollection of stabbing her."
Later in the interview, Halligan told gardai: "I never intended to do Martina any serious injury, much less kill her. I'm very, very sorry. My life is all messed up and of course I am very concerned about the kids."