A former Polegate councillor has been found guilty of attempting to murder his wife.
The jury found 73-year-old Joseph O’Riordan guilty in less than two hours at Brighton Law Courts this afternoon (April 21).
O’Riordan of Guardian Court, Brookside Avenue, had already admitted to wounding with intent causing grievous bodily harm, but denied attempted murder.
The court heard O’Riordan stabbed his wife on October 22, three weeks after discovering she had a “short” affair with their former postman Nick Gunn.
Although Amanda O’Riordan had told her husband the affair was over, the prosecution said he had become “transfixed” with his wife’s former lover.
O’Riordan planted a GPS tracking device on his wife’s car to track her movements after finding out about the affair, as well as trying to track down Mr Gunn. Police officers found a list from the electoral roll, of men living on a road in Portslade where Mr Gunn had moved to.
“You have listened to a heart-wrenching story of love, duty, obsession, betrayal and revenge.”
The prosector in the case, Dale Sullivan, described O’Riordan’s behaviour as “obsessive”.
Leading up to the attack
On the evening of October 22, the pair had visited Mrs O’Riordan’s mother, and had taken her shopping in the Bexhill and Hastings area.
After the shopping trip they returned to her mother’s home. It was then that Mr O’Riordan received a telephone call, which resulted in a “shift” in his mood.
The couple left just after 9pm, and argued in the car. Mr O’Riordan said, “you have made a fool out of me,” and said he thought his wife was still lying to him.
He told his wife he had received a call from a private investigator who he had hired to follow her.
The couple visited KFC at Glyne Gap, and O’Riordan made another phone call.
The pair then got back in the car in order to travel home to Polegate, but had another row, which resulted in Mrs O’Riordan trying to get out of the car when they had stopped at a set of traffic lights.
Mr O’Riordan grabbed her and would not let her leave. She agreed she would not get out of the car.
When they arrived home, Mrs O’Riordan put the shopping down in the kitchen, and went to the bedroom to put down her handbag.
However, Mr Sullivan said, “The defendant took exception to the fact Amanda had not taken her coat off. She was unsure whether to stay.”
She told her husband she was considering going back to her mother’s to allow him to “cool off”.
This was when he reportedly ripped off her coat and threw it across the room, and Mrs O’Riordan agreed she would not leave the flat.
He then went to the kitchen, picked up a large knife,and went back to the bedroom.
He approached his wife and said “Look what you have made me do, this is all your fault.”
O’Riordan then stabbed his wife with “a significant amount of force” up to eight times.
Mrs O’Riordan, who was injured on the bed, begged her husband to call an ambulance, which he eventually did.
He told the call handler, “A woman has been stabbed, please hurry.”
O’Riordan was arrested at the scene, and Mrs O’Riordan was taken to hospital in a life-threatening condition after being stabbed in the chest and abdomen.
She has six hours of life saving surgery and spent several weeks in the intensive care unit, the court heard.
Mr Sullivan said police officers at the scene said Mr O’Riordan was “very calm, very composed, unassuming, bizarrely relaxed, and very much in control of himself.”
He told police at the scene “I have just found out she is having an affair.”
But Mr Sullivan said, “That has got to be a lie hasn’t it? He knew about the affair three weeks before.”
He claimed O’Riordan stabbed his wife with the intention of killing her.
Defending O’Riordan, Peter Doyle QC, said O’Riordan did not intend to murder his wife. The day before the attack, Mr O’Riordan was “looking forward to a birthday celebration that was set to take place 10 days later, buying her expensive perfume, as he always did on her birthday, booking a table at the Grand Hotel for fine dining.”
The pair were also planning a trip to Morocco. He said these were not the actions of a man planning to kill his wife.
“It is a strange irony in this case we may think that the man who, irrespective of intent, placed her life at risk, saved her life,” said Mr Doyle.
O’Riordan chose not take to the stand in the trial, so no defence evidence was put before the jury.
In summing up the case, Judge Shani Barnes said, “You have listened to a heart-wrenching story of love, duty, obsession, betrayal and revenge.”
Mr and Mrs O’Riordan were married for more than ten years, and had renewed their wedding vows in the months preceding the attack.
The couple had been together for more than 20 years in total and met when Mrs O’Riordan was 23 and Mr O’Riordan was 46.
The pair were well known in the Polegate community, with Mr O’Riordan sitting on the town council, and the couple volunteering for various fundraising events.
A video statement from Mrs O’Riordan was played to the court last Tuesday (April 14), which was filmed on November 27, soon after she was released from hospital.
Speaking about the attack she said, “I thought I was going to die. I felt like this was it for me.”
She talked about the events leading up to the attack, and said in the months before the incident she had felt smothered’ in the marriage, and had told her husband she was unhappy.
The pair were very involved in the community and Mrs O’Riordan said the pressure of this, alongside a full-time job, left her exhausted’.
“I could never get five minutes to myself, ” she said. “We were together all of the time. I just did not have any space, or any time for me.
“We did a lot in the community which is a lovely place where we live, and the people are very, very nice. Practically every evening we would have to be doing something. I was exhausted and I did not want to do it any more.”
She said this was when her “short” affair began, which last “a couple of months”.
But when she was confronted by her husband about the affair, she admitted it and said it ended then.
“I promised him I would not leave him, ” she said. “I knew that he would not cope on his own. I never wanted to hurt him or see him upset.”
After that, Mrs O’Riordan said the pair had tried to work through their problems, but her husband was struggling to get over the problems in the marriage, and had even talked about suicide.
When she was attacked, Mrs O’Riordan said her husband did not seem angry.
“It was almost, like, sadness,” she said. “Like, you have made me do this, I do not want to but you have made me.”
She recalled waking up in hospital after suffering wounds to her chest, stomach, back and arms.
“When I woke up, I was worried about Joe, I wanted to know where he was, ” she said.
“Nobody could tell me at first. I kept asking because I just wanted to make sure he was okay. He had to take medicine and he had some things wrong with him.
“I wanted to make sure he was being looked after properly as I always looked after him. And still now, I worry about him. I hate the fact he is in prison and I wish he wasn’t. But I know what he did was wrong.
“It is hard because I never, ever thought he would hurt me. I still struggle to believe that.”
O’Riordan will be sentenced at Brighton Law Courts tomorrow (April 21).