A 67-year-old martial arts instructor who stabbed his former partner to death has been jailed for four years for manslaughter.
Sentencing Noel Lenihan on Monday at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Michael White, said he and the victim, Christopher McGrath, were known to each other and had a “dysfunctional relationship”.
This relationship had not been good for either of them, based on difficulties complicated by alcohol consumption, he said.
Difficulties had come to Lenihan in his “own home” and the court had to give serious consideration to this, noted the judge.
However, Mr Justice White said the defendant’s own account of what happened inside his house that night did not reflect the degree of injuries inflicted on the deceased.
“No doubt he minimised the degree of excessive force he used,” added the judge.
The court has heard that the two men were previously in an “intimate” relationship and the defendant was considered “a family friend” to the deceased’s younger siblings.
Lenihan from Cardinal Cushing Road, Mervue, Galway was originally charged with murder but pleaded guilty earlier this year to Mr McGrath’s (38) manslaughter on March 12th, 2017 at Lenihan’s home.
The plea was accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The court previously heard Mr McGrath had spent his youth protecting his younger siblings from their “mentally unstable” mother by “taking the brunt” of her “fierce temper”.
However, the deceased had a history of difficulties with drugs and alcohol, was in and out of homelessness and would sometimes stay at Lenihan’s house.
Lenihan claimed he was acting in self-defence when he stabbed Mr McGrath “in fear” with a steak knife after the deceased scaled a wall at the back of his house in the early hours of the morning, got in through a back door and threatened him.
Following a struggle between the pair, Lenihan told gardaí in his interviews that Mr McGrath put him in a “scarf hold”, a judo move that the defendant had previously taught him.
The deceased told Lenihan that he would choke him before the defendant found a knife underneath an armchair.
Acting State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan said Mr McGrath had suffered five knife wounds, including a fatal wound to the heart that was consistent with a “direct frontal” movement rather than a backwards one. However, Lenihan claimed he had used the knife in a “get off me” motion while he still had his back to Mr McGrath.
The defendant wrote an apology to the victim’s family, saying: “It breaks my heart to think I have devastated the whole family by taking Christopher away.”
Lenihan was sentenced to four years imprisonment, backdated to November 1st, 2019.