Woman guilty over Salthill death

Mon, Jan 28, 2013, 00:00

A Connemara woman has been found guilty by a jury of the manslaughter of her former lover in a Salthill apartment during Race Week two years ago.

Maura Thornton (31), a native of Spiddal, Co Galway, with a more recent address in Inverin, Connemara, had denied the murder of US national Kevin Joyce (59) at a rented apartment at 183 Upper Salthill on Sunday, July 31st, 2011, during a six-day trial at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Galway.

The jury of three women and nine men returned a unanimous verdict following three hours and eight minutes of deliberations, finding the accused “not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter”.

The jury had spent two hours deliberating last Friday and when they failed to reach a verdict Mr Justice Barry White sent them home for the weekend.

They resumed their deliberations this morning.

Mr Justice White remanded the accused on continuing bail to appear before the Central Criminal Court sitting in Dublin on March 11th for sentence.

He directed the preparation of a victim impact statement to be taken in the interim from relatives of the deceased living in Cleveland, Ohio.

Blaise O’Carroll SC defending said he would need the time also to prepare a plea in mitigation and get medical reports prior to sentencing.

Ms Thornton was accompanied by her mother Breege Ridge Thornton and her mother’s partner, Brendan Lydon, when the verdict was read out.

Outside afterwards, her mother said she and her daughter were relieved and delighted the trial was over.

Evidence had been heard during the trial of how Mr Joyce had been in a brief relationship with the accused which ended in the weeks before his death.

He had phoned her 37 times that Sunday and was acutely intoxicated to a dangerously high level when he arrived outside her apartment that night.

Thornton’s mother told the jury her daughter went out to confront Joyce, carrying a kitchen knife. She said she looked out through the window and saw her daughter carry out a punching action with the knife in her hand. She saw the victim fall.

A post mortem revealed Mr Joyce was stabbed three times in the back.

Ms Thornton later admitted during Garda interviews that when the victim fell on his back, she “prodded” him fifteen more times in the upper left shoulder and chest area with the knife.

Two of those stab wounds, which were 9cm deep, proved fatal as they punctured his left lung and pulmonary artery.

Ms Thornton was also highly intoxicated at the time.