A MAN has been jailed for six years by a judge at the Central Criminal Court for stabbing to death his sister’s partner in Co Mayo in August 2009.
Fintan McKenna (24), Woodlands, Balla, Castlebar, had been convicted of the manslaughter of Francis “Frankie” Heneghan in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo, on August 12th, 2009, after a 10-day trial in November last.
Mr Heneghan (24), an unemployed construction worker and father of three, bled to death in a laneway seconds after being stabbed 11 times including in the heart, lungs and neck.
At yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Mr Justice John Edwards described how the tragic events resulted from “a lethal cocktail of drink, drugs and the use of a knife” by McKenna who had no previous criminal convictions.
Earlier in a summary of evidence in the case, Sgt Gary Walsh said McKenna was extremely intoxicated on the night that he stabbed Mr Heneghan and had been arrested by gardaí for public order offences shortly after he killed Mr Heneghan.
Sgt Walsh said that before he was stabbed, Mr Heneghan challenged McKenna to a fight down a laneway, but McKenna refused. It was after this “challenge” that McKenna armed himself with a knife which he later used to kill Mr Heneghan.
McKenna told gardaí in interviews he took the knife from a friend to protect himself because he was afraid of Mr Heneghan.
At the time of the killing there was tension between the pair over the victim’s treatment of McKenna’s sister Grace who Mr Heneghan had two children with and was involved in a long-term relationship.
On the night of the killing Mr Heneghan had “run or lunged” into a laneway where McKenna was and began fighting. Mr Heneghan was later found bleeding to death there.
McKenna admitted to gardaí that he stabbed Mr Heneghan twice in the chest in self-defence after being assaulted by him in a lane in Kiltimagh, but insisted he couldn’t have killed him.
However, in interviews with gardaí, McKenna who originally comes from Artane, north Dublin, admitted that he could not fully remember the events of the night because of the amount of alcohol he had consumed and his previous use of cannabis.
Defence counsel Martin Giblin read a letter written by him in which he expressed his sorrow for his crime to the Heneghan family.
“Not a day passes without me thinking of what I have done,” the letter read.
In a victim impact statement, read by Mr Heneghan’s sister Yvonne Barrett, she spoke of the “raw pain, shock and disbelief that we feel as we mourn Frankie”.
Ms Barrett explained how the events of August 12th, 2009, had changed her family’s life forever and how family members have “haunting nightmares about the horror Frankie suffered in his last moments”.
She also explained that they suffer from post-traumatic stress and are “paralysed by grief and pain”.
After summarising mitigating and aggravating aspects of the case, which included the fact that McKenna offered to plead guilty to manslaughter at the outset of the case which was turned down by the prosecution, Mr Justice John Edwards sentenced McKenna to six years in prison which was backdated to when he first went into custody on December 18th, 2009.