Woman ‘stabbed partner six times’

A woman who was choked and beaten by her partner appeared in court yesterday accused of stabbing him to death.

Appearing at Lisburn Magistrates’ Court by video-link from police custody, 31-year-old Julie Ann McIlwaine was handcuffed, appearing emotional and occasionally cried during the half-hour hearing where she was charged that on March 2, she murdered James Joseph Crossley.

The charge arises after 38-year-old Mr Crossley sustained fatal stab wounds at McIwaine’s home at Filbert Drive in Dunmurry shortly before midnight on Tuesday evening.

Giving evidence to the court, a PSNI officer outlined how McIlwaine reported to the ambulance service that “she had stabbed her boyfriend at least six times,” adding that when police arrived, Mr Crossley was on his hands and knees at the side of the blood-stained bed. All he could say was that he couldn’t breathe.

Jim Crossley 38, as a woman has been charged with Mr Crossley's murder after he was stabbed in Belfast.

Ambulance staff and police gave first aid but he suffered a cardiac arrest on the way to hospital and was pronounced dead at 12.48am.

McIlwaine, an auxiliary nurse and mother of four, was arrested and interviewed during which time she gave what the officer said was “an open and honest account of what happened”. What she said is “reflected and corroborated by the scene and police,” namely that Mr Crossley had sustained five stab wounds to the right side of his chest and one to his upper inner thigh.

The senior officer told the court that previously, McIlwaine had been deemed “high risk MARAC (Multi agency risk assessment conference)”.

She said police opposed bail not on any of the statutory grounds such as risk of further offences or flight but on the grounds that McIlwaine was a risk to herself.

The court heard that she told police that Mr Crossley had gone to bed telling her she had to “choose between him and her family” and as there was a “history of domestic violence” she had been keeping their relationship a secret from her own family and social services.

Defence solicitor Philip Breen revealed that amongst the recorded incidents of domestic violence were allegations that Mr Crossley had physically assaulted and choked her. He was to face a trial later this month accused of actual bodily harm, and during a holiday in Spain, had been arrested and temporarily remanded for breaking down a door and choking her.

Mr Breen outlined one incident where McIlwaine had locked Mr Crossley in a room and fled but he battered the door down, drove after her and rammed her car, and a further one where Crossley was convicted at Belfast Magistrates’ Court last October of assaulting her and was given a nine-month restraining order.

Mr Breen said the two-year relationship was one of “control and oppression”.

Having heard from McIlwaine’s sister that she could live with her and with the sister acting as surety, Deputy District Judge Chris Holmes said he would grant bail.

He said while the police were to be “commended” for highlighting their concerns about the risk of McIlwaine harming herself there were no other grounds of objection so “I will grant bail”.

He ordered that McIlwaine be freed on her own bail of £500 with a surety and a curfew and a complete ban on alcohol.