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Home / News / Man broke knives in terrifying attack, woman tells court

Man broke knives in terrifying attack, woman tells court


A woman has told a jury at the Central Criminal Court how her ex-partner broke two knives and went for a third in what she described as a terrifying attack during which he also allegedly threatened to “finish her off”.

Philip Cox, 39, who is originally from Tallaght in Dublin but has an address at York Street Flats in Dublin 2, has pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of his former partner, Cristal O’Brien, on 1 December 2022.

The trial was briefly disrupted today after the accused man stood up and left the courtroom during his ex-partner’s testimony saying she was a “lying c**t”.

The jury was told Ms O’Brien had been in an 18-year relationship with Philip Cox and they had a child together.

They had been living apart since July 2022 but Mr Cox would stay at the apartment for two days during the week on his days off to take care of their child while Ms O’Brien was at work.

Cristal O’Brien said her ex-partner was “in an odd humour” when he returned from the pub just after midnight on 1 December and was saying things to “get a rise” from her.

When he told her she was drinking too much and was turning into her mother she got annoyed and told him to “go f**k” himself.

She said he went to the kitchen and took a large knife from the press before pointing it towards her and telling her she did not like hearing the truth and that he would show her the truth.

She said he was ranting and she was terrified.

She said she left her flat and went out onto a balcony but was followed by Mr Cox down a flight of stairs.

On the way past a friend’s flat, she banged on the door in the hope someone would answer.

She said he told her if he got anyone out he would “stab her to pieces”.

She said Mr Cox had either kicked the back of her leg or shoved her and she ended up on the ground.

While she was on the ground he was trying to stab her and she was kicking and punching up from the ground to try stop him, she said.

She said he must have hit the knife off a wall because it broke. He kicked her in the face twice and said he was going back to get another knife.

Around that time her friend and neighbour Alice McGrath was there and shouting at him to stop, she told the jury.

When he left she and Ms McGrath ran to her friend’s flat and locked the door. She thought he would not do anything else but told her friend to call the gardaí.

She said Mr Cox then started “booting the door” of her flat and smashed the glass.

“It took a few minutes but he got it open and came straight for me,” she said.

She said her friend was pulling at his t-shirt to get him off her and she told him their child was crying on the balcony to see if it would snap him out of it.

She said her child was not on the balcony and was asleep in bed but she had said it to try to get him to stop.

Asked if she was afraid for her son who was on his own she replied “yes”.

At that point, the accused man stood up in the courtroom and as he left said “she is a lying c***t”.

After a break in proceedings, Mr Justice Paul McDermott told the jury that in relation to the interruption an apology had been made.

Judge McDermott said cases such as these can “engender high emotions at times”.

The judge told the jury this was not evidence and they were sworn to try the case only on the evidence before them.

Ms O’Brien resumed her evidence and said while she was in her friend’s flat the accused “got me twice” meaning he had stabbed her twice in her left thigh.

She at first thought it was only once but paramedics later told her there were two wounds.

She said the knife he was using which was a second knife also broke and he said he was going to get another.

When he left she said she went to the kitchen and hid from him. When he returned her friend told him she had gone upstairs.

When he went to look for her they left the flat and went across the road and hid behind a car until gardaí came.

She said she was asking for an ambulance as her pyjamas were covered in blood.

She was later treated in hospital and received stitches to her leg and a tetanus injection.

She said she also had a “busted lip” and bruising around her cheek and bruising to her arms.

She was released from hospital later that morning.

Ms O’Brien’s friend and neighbour Alice McGrath said she awoke after hearing a knock and went outside where she could hear crying.

As she walked down towards the stairwell she said Philip Cox passed her by on the way to Ms O’Brien’s flat.

“He was saying he was going to get a knife, going to stab her, kill her dead and that he didn’t care if he did time, he was going to stab her,” she told the jury.

She said she found Ms O’Brien on the ground in the stairwell and took her to her own flat.

As she closed the door she saw Philip Cox approach so she bolted the door.

She said he smashed the glass using the handle of the knife and put his hand through and opened the door.

When he entered the flat he ran at Cristal and was making stabbing motions towards her.

She was kicking back with her legs to defend herself, Ms McGrath said.

She said she tried to pull and yank Mr Cox back by his jersey as he appeared to be aiming “higher” towards Ms O’Brien’s chest and did this repeatedly.

She said she pleaded with him to stop and told him to think of his child but he would not listen to anything.

The only thing he reacted to was the dog barking, she said.

She said the knife broke and he pulled Ms O’Brien by the hood and was kicking her.

She ran to two other neighbours to try get help and when she returned she said Mr Cox was leaving her flat but said he was going to “finish her off”.

Ms McGrath said she put Ms O’Brien in her kitchen with the light off to hide and when Mr Cox returned he was screaming “where is she?”.

She told Mr Cox that Ms O’Brien was upstairs and when he went to find her the two women ran from the flat to the ground floor and hid across the road until gardaí came.

The jury was told Mr Cox was found by gardaí smoking a cigarette outside his home and that he had held his hands out to be handcuffed.

He told gardaí there had been an altercation with his girlfriend and he was covered in blood.

He later had to receive medical treatment.

The court was also told that after he was cautioned the accused replied: “She attacked me, I went on the rampage, then I went overboard.

“She knocked into the neighbours and I went to the neighbours to get her. I went to do her bodily harm I went to stab her in the thigh and I blacked out.

“I saw yous come upstairs after I talked to my father on the phone. All I wanted was a smoke and then you guys came at me.”

Gardaí also confirmed he said: “It was all my fault, it wasn’t hers.”

The trial continues tomorrow.


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