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28 May 2022

Chef held knife to wife's throat, threatened to kill her

"I really thought that he was going to kill me," victim told Gardaí

Letterkenny court house.

Letterkenny court house.

A trained chef held a large knife to his wife’s neck and threatened to kill her in their kitchen in Letterkenny.

Jimmy McGinley ‘lost it’ with his wife, Ms Antonia O’Brien, in the early hours of March 30, 2019 at Glendale Manor, Letterkenny.

McGinley (34) has pleaded guilty to making a threat to kill Ms O’Brien. He is also charged with producing an article in the course of a dispute with Ms O'Brien, namely a kitchen knife, and also of assaulting Ms O'Brien.

Ms Patricia McLaughlin BL, Counsel for the State, told Letterkenny Circuit Court that Ms O’Brien made a 999 call during which she said her husband was threatening to kill her by holding a knife to her throat.

“She was hysterical on the phone and there was a lot of noise in the background,” Ms McLaughlin said.

The court heard that the pair were having a ‘few drinks’ on the night in question when things from the past were brought up. Ms O’Brien mentioned a baby that they lost nine years previously.

Ms O’Brien said in her statement to Gardaí that when she mentioned the child, ‘Jimmy lost it. He was right up in my face and told me not to mention it again’.

McGinley, the court was told, grabbed a knife from the holder and said to Ms O’Brien: ‘Go on, mention her again and see what happens’.

Ms O’Brien outlined how she was terrified, telling Gardaí: “I really thought that he was going to kill me. I pleaded with him not to. I didn’t want my kids to find me in the morning.

“The knife was touching my throat. I managed to push him away and he came back. I put my foot up and kicked him away. I couldn’t breathe, I was so scared.” 

When Garda Porter arrived, Ms O’Brien was hysterical and crying.

Garda Porter seized a large kitchen knife from the scene. Ms O’Brien told Gardaí that she threw a toolbox at the accused when she got away from him.

At 1.40am, McGinley was arrested for an offence contrary to section 5 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997.

When interviewed by Gardaí, McGinley initially said that they had been having a conversation with regard to ex-partners and that Ms O’Brien had threatened to kill him.

Ms McLaughlin told the court that McGinley maintained that position for most of the first interview.

McGinley admitted to Gardaí that he had threatened Ms O’Brien previously, but that he ‘didn’t intend her to take the threats seriously’. He denied making threats on the night in question and denied grabbing the knife.

Ms O’Brien was not present in court for the hearing and declined making a victim impact statement. Garda Porter said he understood that the pair were husband and wife at the time of the incident but believed that they have now separated.

Barrister for McGinley, Mr Simon Gillespie, said his client had cried each time he spoke to him about the incident and had ‘expressed deep remorse’.

“He finds it difficult to come to terms with what he did and it has had a serious impact on his already-fragile mental health,” Mr Gillespie said. “He relives the sheer devastation when he thinks of the affect on his partner and children.

“He is devastated in every sense. He acknowledges that the threat of harm being meant was very real.He has asked me to relay that he is deeply sorry.”

Mr Gillespie said that McGinley, who has no previous convictions, had ‘taken steps’ to address alcohol dependency.

McGinley had not had ongoing contact with his three children, who are aged eight, 11 and 14, since the incident and had been unable to work ‘this past few years’ due to his addiction. The loss of access to is children, Mr Gillespie said, was ‘devastating’ for McGinley.

Mr Gillespie told how McGinley has become ‘unable to deal with emotions as a result of his own substance misuse’. 

McGinley, his barrister said, had engaged with Move (Men Overcoming Violent Emotions) and pleaded with the court to consider a non-custodial sentence.

A probation report noted that McGinley was suitable for community service.  Mr Gillespie asked the court to ‘allow a path of rehabilitation’ for the accused.

“He is sorry for what he has done and will live with the consequences for the rest of his life,” Mr Gillespie said.

Judge John Aylmer said the matter was a ‘very serious case and one, which in ordinary circumstances, merits a custodial sentence’.

Judge Aylmer said he would need some time to consider the case and adjourned until next Thursday, February 3, for sentencing.

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