An Irish woman has been sentenced to seven years in prison for stabbing her ex-boyfriend 18 times. Maura Thornton (31), from Inverin, Connemara, killed Kevin Joyce (59) when he arrived at her Salthill, Galway apartment uninvited.

Ireland’s Central Criminal Court found her guilty of manslaughter. She had previously pleaded not guilty to murder. The court heard that the couple had been involved in a volatile relationship and the incident had been fuelled by alcohol.

Justice Barry White told the court that Joyce’s family had shown true humanity and Christianity in asking that Thornton be given a chance to change her life. The Galway Advertiser reports that in her victim impact statement Joyce’s daughter Michaela described her father “as being a forgiving man with a kind heart, and that like him, she believed Thornton should be given a chance to change the path of her life, heal herself, forgive herself, and leave violence behind her”.

However, White said, “It’s all too common before these courts, where a person resorts to the use of a knife with fatal consequences.

“In my opinion, the jury took a very merciful approach in determining this was manslaughter.”
He added, “You offered a plea to manslaughter and you appear to have remorse for your actions.” He imposed a ten-year sentence, suspending the final three years.

On July 31 2011, Joyce called Thornton a number of times on the phone. When she ignored these calls he climbed over the railing of the property and climbed onto the roof outside her apartment.

Thornton shouted at him to leave. She then took a knife, went out onto the roof and stabbed him 18 times. Two of these wounds were fatal.

She then called the emergency services and the police and told them that Joyce was dying.
Thornton told the court that she had been drinking all day, having consumed cider and whiskey. She said she had not meant to kill Joyce but had simply “lost it” after continued harassment from the man who she said was obsessed with her.

Deputy State pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber confirmed that Joyce’s primary cause of death were the “multiple stab wounds.” He also said Joyce’s blood alcohol level was six times the legal limit for driving and due to a fracture in his arm and his inebriation he would have been incapable of defending himself.

Maura Thornton (31), at Galway Courthouse.Hany Marzouk.