AN ORDINAND, Valerie Kearney, was repeatedly stabbed with a kitchen knife by a woman she had been counselling.
Miss Kearney was attacked as she offered pastoral support to Yvonne Martin, aged 62, of Wormald Road, Wallingford, Oxfordshire. Miss Kearney suffered a laceration to her neck, several cuts to her hands, and one deep cut on her right ring finger, which has caused permanent nerve damage.
Last week, at Oxford Crown Court, Miss Martin admitted causing grievous bodily harm and possession of an offensive weapon. She was sentenced to five years.
The incident happened last October. The women were in a café in the village of Benson, near Miss Martin’s home, when Miss Kearney, who was training for ordination in the neighbouring benefice of Icknield, said that her pastoral support could not continue in person owing to coronavirus restrictions. They then got into Miss Kearney’s car.
John Upton, prosecuting, said: “As Miss Kearney was about to drive off, Miss Martin started pummelling her in the head, face, and hands. Initially, Miss Kearney thought Miss Martin was using her hands, until she looked down and saw her own hands were covered in blood, and noticed Miss Martin had a knife.
“She tried to restrict her hits but was unsuccessful, and Miss Martin continued to strike and stab her. She got out of the car and stumbled into a nearby charity shop.”
Police launched a major response, including armed officers, and Miss Martin was arrested shortly afterwards, still carrying the knife.
Mr Upton said that Miss Kearney had regarded her attacker as “an anxious person”, but never felt unsafe with her. She thought, however, that “she would die on that day”. For some weeks afterwards, she would shake violently for no reason, and now double-checks doors and windows. In an impact statement, Miss Kearney said: “If she could do this to me, someone who cared for her, what could she do to someone who crosses her, or to a child?”
Lyall Thompson, Miss Martin’s barrister, said that she had been diagnosed with an emotional and unstable personality. The day before the attack, she had told her GP surgery that she wanted to kill herself. He said: “It’s very clear that this was a call for help. Her friends paint a picture of a good, kind, and loving person, normally, and this is out of character. There’s no suggestion that the actions were motivated by ill-thinking towards Miss Kearney.”
Passing sentence, Mr Recorder Elroy Claxton said that he had taken into account her guilty plea, age, no relevant previous convictions, and the effect on her of the pandemic. But he also had to consider “the seriousness of the offence, and its effect on Miss Kearney, the trauma she still suffers and the scars she bears”. He also imposed a restraining order, preventing her from contacting Miss Kearney or attending any church services at which she is present, for six years.