Woman on trial for slicing civil servant’s throat told gardaí she stood on busy road 'picking a victim'

By Ruaidhrí Giblin

A woman on trial for slicing a civil servant’s throat told gardaí that she was standing on Drumcondra Road “picking a victim” and that, shortly before the attack, had let another woman go.

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

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

Opening the case today, prosecuting counsel, Anthony Sammon SC, said the central issue was the state of mind of Ms Kenna at the time. He said the jury would hear evidence from two consultant psychiatrists from the Central Mental Hospital and there would be a conflict in the opinions of the doctors.

Mr Sammon told the jury that Ms Bourke, a civil servant, was walking home from work around 5pm on the day in question when she was attacked by Ms Kenna with a knife. Mr Sammon said Ms Bourke’s “throat was slit” and she suffered “severe facial scarring”.

Upon her arrest the following day, Ms Kenna told gardaí: “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,” the jury heard.

On the second day of the trial today, Fíona Crawford BL, prosecuting, told the jury that Ms Kenna was interviewed three times by gardaí on January 5, 2017, two days after the attack. Ms Crawford proceeded to read to the jury two memos of those interviews.

Ms Kenna told gardaí that she had followed another woman along the Drumcondra Road shortly before the attack on Ms Bourke but “let her (the first woman) go”, the jury heard.

When shown CCTV footage from Drumcondra Road on the day in question, Ms Kenna located the point at which she followed the first woman. When asked what she was doing at another location on Drumcondra Road, Ms Kenna said she was “picking a victim”, the jury heard.

When asked if she understood Ms Bourke was severely injured, Ms Kenna said she didn't care. When asked if she had any sympathy for Ms Bourke, Ms Kenna said she only had sympathy for herself, Ms Kenna. She told gardai that if they were to let her out of custody then she would "finish her off".

She told gardaí, the jury heard, that she didn’t know Ms Bourke beforehand. “She just happened to work for that lot” referring to the Department of Social Protection.

In the second memo of interview heard by the jury, Ms Kenna told gardaí that she had left her “meeting house” on the day in question and had to get some money. "There she (Ms Bourke) was, so I just attacked her”. She said Ms Bourke’s money would have "done me for days".

“I'm just an opportunist,” she told gardaí, and Ms Bourke just happened to be walking by at the “wrong place, wrong time”. She told gardaí that she cut Ms Bourke’s face “deep enough” with the knife she always carried. It was a sharp knife, Ms Kenna told gardaí, “a great fucking knife".

When asked why she assaulted Ms Bourke, Ms Kenna told gardaí she “snapped”. She said she decided to kill Ms Bourke and did not know how she survived. She told gardaí that she “wanted to see her die” and she had a fascination with seeing "the life drain out of people". It was something she was "starting to practice," she told gardaí, and she didn't want to "let her live”.

She agreed that she intended to kill somebody. She told gardaí she was “preying on people” to get money and didn’t “want them to live”. She said she was angry, that she had been doing “alright on my own” but that she was “tired of lots of people”.

She said she wanted to do bigger things and referred to purchasing firearms for €500 to “clear out” a whole apartment block of people.

When asked by gardaí if she had more interest in money or murder, she said “both".

Under cross-examination from Barry White SC, for the defence, Detective Sergeant Ken Hoare said Ms Kenna presented at interview in a number of different ways. It was "fair to say" there were mood swings, the detective sergeant accepted.

There were times she was direct, times she was abusive and there was “inappropriate laughter" at times, Det Sgt Hoare said.

The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Robert Eagar and a jury of seven men and five women.

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