Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Friday, 20 November 2009

Judge blasts 'medieval barbarity' of eyeball gouger

Francis Murphy. Pic by Ciaran Donnelly
Francis Murphy was jailed for 12 years for the attempted murder

A man who gouged out a woman's eye and threw it from an eighth-floor balcony has been jailed for attempted murder.

Francis Murphy, 26, was convicted at the High Court in Edinburgh of using a metal coat hanger to prise out the eye of 27-year-old Natalie Farrell in May.

Judge John Morris QC told Murphy his crime was almost "medieval" in its barbarity and would make a right-thinking person "recoil in horror".

Murphy, from Dundee, was jailed for 12 years.

During the trial, Ms Farrell described the attack at her home in Dundee's Dalfield Court on 26 May this year.

She said she had ended her 10-year relationship with Murphy and had started a new partnership with another man.

However, Murphy turned up at her home, attacked her new partner, then grabbed her and said he was going to take out her eye with a metal hook.

She described how he tried at get his thumb and two fingers into her eye and pull it out.

She said she passed out when Murphy began throttling her.

You were convicted of crimes which are almost medieval in their barbarity, which would make any right-thinking person recoil in horror
Judge John Morris QC

When Ms Farrell regained consciousness her eye was on her cheek hanging by the optic nerve.

Murphy then grabbed it and threw it over an eighth-floor balcony.

Ms Farrell said she only learned that her eye had been pulled out when a friend found it and gave it to paramedics.

Her neighbour, Noel Pittham, told the court that he watched Murphy try to force Ms Farrell over the balcony as he attacked her.

The court also heard from Ms Farrell's friend, Jade Hall, 24, who recounted hitting Murphy with a brush to try to stop him from attacking her friend.

Artificial eye

She said that it was only when she descended the stairs of the block of flats that she and another man found Ms Farrell's eye lying in the street.

Murphy had claimed to police that he could remember nothing of the attack.

Solicitor advocate Iain Paterson, defending, blamed his client's actions on a combination of "tangled emotions", drink and drugs - and said Murphy was struggling to come to terms with what had happened.

"He is going to have to sit in a prison cell for a number of years and take stock of what he has done," said Mr Paterson.

Sentencing Murphy to 12 years, judge John Morris QC told him: "You were convicted of crimes which are almost medieval in their barbarity, which would make any right-thinking person recoil in horror."

Medics are still working with Ms Farrell, who was not in court to hear the sentence, to assess whether she can be given an artificial eye.

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