A 34-year-old Newtownabbey man who stabbed his ex-partner 30 times in front of their three-year old daughter has been jailed for the "brutal and sustained" attack.
Stephen David John McFarlane, from Glenville Park, was handed a 15-year sentence for attempting to murder the 28-year-old mother of two who was left with life-changing injuries.
Belfast Crown Court heard that when police arrived at her Carnmoney home after receiving a 999 call from a screaming female, they found her lying in a pool of blood in the living room. A crying toddler in the room told officers, "bad Daddy."
The seriously injured woman was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where she was treated for stab wounds to her head, chest, abdomen, neck and back.
Telling the court "she could easily have died", a Crown prosecutor noted the woman sustained "multiple stab wounds to her cervical region". She also had a large wound close to her jugular vein, and was stabbed "at least nine times" in the chest. As a result of the knife attack she also suffered collapsed lungs, sustained an injury to her spinal cord and required emergency surgery.
Judge Geoffrey Miller QC spoke of the physical and psychological impact the attack has had upon the County Antrim woman, who had to learn to walk again, and who suffers from flashbacks.
The Judge said: "There can be no doubt that the consequences for her have been life-changing."
McFarlane, who was deemed to be dangerous by the Probation Board, went on the run for two days after the knife attack on January 13 last year, and became the subject of a police hunt.
During his two days at large, McFarlane made off without paying for petrol, stole two sets of car registration plates and also drove dangerously during a police chase. He was arrested following a car chase which ended in a cul-de-sac in East Belfast.
The mechanic, who at the time of the domestic attack was using steroids, subsequently admitted a litany of offences including attempting to murder his former partner, damaging her properly, and stealing petrol and driving dangerously when on the run.
During today's sentencing, the court heard McFarlane has already served a sentence for a previous attack on a former girlfriend.
Judge Miller revealed that after last January's violent incident, the Probation Board deemed McFarlane to be dangerous, that he presented a significant risk to the public and that there was a high likelihood of re-offending. The Judge spoke of the "brutal and sustained nature" of the attack, and said not only was it carried out in front of a young child, but also continued with the woman was "prone and defenceless."
As McFarlane was deemed to be dangerous,he was handed an extended custodial sentence of 15 years. He will serve at least seven and a half years in prison before being considered eligible for release by the Paroles Commission. When he is released, the remainder of his sentence will be spend on licence.
The County Antrim father of three was also given an extended five years on licence, in a bid to protect the public, and was banned from driving for ten years.
As he was being led from the dock in handcuffs, McFarlane turned to the woman's family in the public gallery and said: "I want to apologise for what I did, but at the end of the day I got stopped from seeing my children, but I am sorry."
At a previous court hearing, when details of the incident emerged, a Crown prosecutor said the relationship between McFarlane and his ex was volatile, with instances of violence towards her. A month before trying to murder his ex, McFarland had gone to her home and thrown a brick through the window before refusing to leave. Two days later, she returned home to find him sitting in her living room brandishing a large knife.Again, he refused to leave. On both occasions he was arrested.
Gavan Duffy QC, the barrister representing McFarlane, said that his client deeply regretted his behaviour,and was having difficulty coming to terms with the fact the attack happened in front of his youngest daughter.