Mar 232010
 

First some facts.

Anne Burke killed her husband, Patrick Burke, by striking him on the head 23 times with a hammer as he lay in bed.

For this act, she was convicted of manslaughter and given a 5-year suspended sentence.

The judge said that the deceased man was responsible for a litany of abuse against his wife and that this was partially to blame for the severe depression she was going through at the time of the killing.

Anne Burke was acquitted of murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to her mental state.

In this case, the accused’s state of mind was the crucial issue deciding not only the jury’s decision to acquit her of murder, but also the judge’s decision to impose a lenient sentence for the killing.

Now, I’m not saying that Anne Burke deserved to go to jail.  If the evidence is to be believed, Patrick Burke was a violent, drunken brute, although admittedly, being dead, he wasn’t present in court to defend his good name.

But nevertheless, going on the evidence before the court, it was right and proper to examine the mental processes that led Anne Burke to commit the crime and kill her husband.  If she was at her wits’ end, the court was right to show compassion towards her, and it’s a good thing not to compound the pain for her children.

Contrast this with the case of David Bourke, who killed his wife after she conducted a humiliating affair and ordered him out of the house so that her boyfriend could move in.

Men have become unhinged by that sort of experience and yet, when I asked a simple question about the David Bourke case, every militant feminist in the country, and one or two from further afield, jumped on me, accusing me of being a misogynist and part of the patriarchal conspiracy to oppress women.  In this clamour, they were joined by assorted cynics, bullies and loudmouths.

The question I asked  was as follows:  What was the mental process that led to this crime?

The Taliban branch of feminism would not tolerate anyone attempting to see behind their simplistic certainties about patriarchy and we ended up with a medieval howling mob attempting to stifle ideas they didn’t approve of.

Now, we discover that the mental processes leading to a crime are very relevant indeed.  So relevant, in fact, that a murder charge has been downgraded to manslaughter and a woman has walked free after killing  a man by beating him over the head twenty times with a hammer as he slept.

Why is it, then, that the killer’s mental processes are significant in one case but not in the other?  Will we see the same mob howling for Mr Justice McCarthy’s head, because he dared to take account of the killer’s mental state?

I doubt it somehow, since the killer in this case wasn’t a man.

__________________

David Bourke Murder Trial


  56 Responses to “Anne Burke Gets Suspended Sentence For Killing Husband With Hammer”

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  1.  

    Can’t argue with the above. This double standard exists.

  2.  

    When I first read “suspended sentence” i thought you meant she was going to be hanged. (Hung? Whatever.)

  3.  

    Another triumph for The Sisterhood.

  4.  

    How come they didn’t divorce ? Two people don’t get on it as well to split … double standard definitely..

  5.  

    Anne Burke and her children lived in fear for years because of this violent and abusive man, I for one am delighted she got a suspended sentence, none of us will know fully what torment that family endured over the years.
    I pray she and her children can now move on with peace, love and happiness in their hearts.
    The last thing they need is negative comments, send them support and love, they deserve that much at least.

  6.  

    There probably is more leniency shown towards female offenders, but in saying that I would imagine there is more of an affect on a person’s mental state being subjected to prolonged physical abuse which is illegal and definitely humiliating rather than the affect of your spouse having an affair. Any humiliation felt from that may not have been intended from the ‘wrongdoer’.
    In either examples, I would think both the male and female killer have temporarily lost their mental capacities when committing the murder regardless of any previous events… it’s fine to look at someone’s mental state and seeing the reasons for it, but if there hasn’t been intentional aggravation then leniency won’t be shown it seems.

  7.  

    Earlier today I mentioned the ‘burning bed’ murder (1977) again–it provided and continues to provide a template for revenge killing. Leniency in the courts (in the U.S. at least) for this type of premeditated murder has been ‘enshrined’ since a landmark decision by Ohio Governor Celeste back in 1990. Other states followed suit.

    ::

  8.  

    Good post Bock, I can’t see hordes of militant feminists wading in to argue for equality here.

  9.  

    Equality for what Mark? If your spouse has an affair, as opposed to a spouse beating the crap out of you for years the mental anguish/state of the killer should be treated with equal leniency?

  10.  

    Christina — There are no negative comments about Anne Burke in this post.

    FME — You’re completely missing the point by saying that physical abuse is worse than an affair. It isn’t a league table. The question is why the law takes account of one person’s mental anguish but not another’s.

  11.  

    Killing someone. There is a double standard that exists and please don’t try and deny it.

    Look at this youtube video to see the different reactions to male and female violence. This was filmed by ABC in the states who got two actors to act out the part of the abusive spouse / partner in a park to see the reactions of passers by. The reaction of the woman at 2.15 is particularly telling, as is the reaction of the cop at 5.05. he even states that if it was a man abusing the woman he would have stepped in. He even admits it’s a double standard. Link to the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGZIQaCaW0I If this link doesn’t work go to youtube and search for reactions to female-on-male violence.

  12.  

    I cannot avoid seeing a double standard here, It was stated in court that Ann Burke and her deceased husband were both afflicted by alcoholism, Ann Burke claimed she drank excessivly for 30 yrs because of the physical and mental abuse visited upon her by her husband.
    Surely 30 yrs of alcohol abuse was a very big contributing factor in the entire time, Thats a very long time, So i’m still totally confused as to how a jury came to a decision of manslaughter and the Judge suspended the sentence, When the albeit ” monsterous man ” was asleep, probably extremly drunk and bludgeoned to death.
    She had suffered years of brutal attacks, But the suspended sentence is a dangerous precedent, It is sending out a very mixed message, She may have felt incapacitated by her life, But ultimately it was her choice to beat him over the head 23 times when it may have been possible for her to seek help for the abuse and for her drinking.
    From what I gleaned from the David Bourke case, He was also abused, emotionally and mentally, Yet he was found guilty of Murder not Manslaughter, So what are we saying, That physical abuse is worse than Mental abuse ? That Women are more entitled to empathy than Men.
    Are there levels of abuse ? Is the justice system Gender influenced, This verdict leaves a lot of unanswered questions regarding domestic violence and abuse.

  13.  

    It does Norma. Indeed it does. And I’m glad that Anne Burke has been released because it exposes the hypocrisy and the bullshit attendant on the David Bourke case, from people who really ought to know better, if they had any principles.

    It seems to me that orthodoxy dictates everything these days, and normally rational people abandon their critical faculties in the face of right-on political correctness.

    I don’t know. Maybe there’s money in it for them. I’m sure the feminist industry is a lucrative area to work in.

  14.  

    Norma I’m not sure David Bourke was emotionally and mentally abused due to his wife’s affair. Relationships end all the time. It doesn’t result in murder.
    Bock, I don’t think I’m missing the point in saying that there are more aggravating factors influencing why one person’s mental anguish is taken into account and anothers isn’t.
    I mean if your going to argue that David Burke’s mental state was unfairly not taken into account, then all crimes have a predetermining mental state that should be taken into account really then.
    .. ok take this guy for instance – http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/stat/wesbrookcoy.htm

    “On November 13, 1997, in Channelview, Wesbrook was invited over to the residence of his ex-wife, a 32-year-old white female. Wesbrook believed this meeting was for a possible marital reconciliation, but when he arrived, there were others present. He sat around drinking with all of them. At some point in the evening, Wesbrook noticed that his ex-wife and two of the men had slipped away, and when he went into the bedroom, he found her having sex with both of the men. Wesbrook then went to his truck and pulled out his .36-caliber hunting rifle and returned to the residence. He then fatally shot his ex-wife and all three of the males in the residence. Another female was injured, but survived the shooting.”

    I’m sure he had great mental anguish at the time.. should it be taken into account for some kind of leniency. I don’t think so. I’m sure he was humiliated and emotionally abused, but did his wife intend to make him feel that way. Who knows. The predetermining factors affecting a person’s mental state from being physically abused for years are slightly different than a crime of jealousy.

  15.  

    The predetermining factors affecting a person’s mental state from being physically abused for years are slightly different than a crime of jealousy.

    If the crime was motivated by jealousy, I would not be suggesting it as a mitigating factor.

  16.  

    Its probably very naive of me to look for Justice in this Country, Our Family Law is as big a shambles as everything else, Very dependent on the individual interpretation and outlook of Judges and far less on the application of Law in any sense of Equality.
    It is extremly rare that a Man will be given the same rights in a Family Law court as a Woman.
    Women are rarely seen as a threat to the well being and stability of a Family, regardless of their behaviour within that family.
    I agree with you that the verdict in the Ann Burke case might expose the hypocrisy of Justice in Ireland, but somehow I doubt it.
    I hope Ann Burke will find some peace and value in her freedom.

  17.  

    Sorry but I don’t see any mitigating factors in David Burke’s crime. Sure he was obviously suffering emotionally, but I’m not sure I could say his wife intended that. Whereas in the case of Anne Burke I can see why there were mitigating factors considered for her. They weren’t treated equality and I can see why. Not saying I agree, but I can see the reasons why she was given leniency.

  18.  

    The clue is in the mitigating factors alluded to by the court: mental.

  19.  

    FME. I disagree with you on David Bourkes emotional and mental abuse and the comparison you provided does’nt stack up, A surge of violent jealousy cannot be set beside the systematic display of rejection toward a partner while flagrantly setting aside that partners commitment so as to attend to one’s own needs in the encouragement and obvious display of attention and affection for another person.
    It appeared to me that David Bourke was systematically emotionally abused if not even emasculated in his endeavour to keep his family as he had known it, Now this may have been a very unrealistic option for him but it was his struggle with events he might never have foreseen and was ill equipped to deal with.
    It cannot be simply written off as an ” affair “, It appeared to be a sustained and tormenting degree of abuse, What exactly can be defined as an ” affair ” anyway, I cannot imagine a situation more degrading or humiliating as requesting a partner to mind a couples children while one spouse leaves to spend the night in the bed of another, To the best of my recollection there was no separation agreement in place, correct me if i’m wrong.
    To my mind both Ann Burke and David Bourke were in mental and emotional tatters, both grasping for survival of all they placed value on, They both must have tettered on the brink of insanity but they met with very different Justice.

  20.  

    Was that their official finding? Mental? I guess the husband made her mental then in the jury’s opinion.

  21.  

    The link between these two murders is tenuous at best. Bourke killed his wife right in front of his children and pleaded guilty. His ego- presumably fragile- couldn’t permit him to allow his wife to divorce him and that’s not a defence. He was educated and middleclass and had all the resources that such a background allows.
    ” He found e-mails from Campion to his wife ” !!! I’ll bet Ann Burke didn’t find any e-mails. As with everything else, class matters.

  22.  

    FME — Now you’re getting the point. Did you not read the post?

    Lapsedmethodist — I’ll repeat, the point of this post is the reaction to any suggestion that we should look inside the mental processes behind the crime. Nothing justifies what David Bourke did, as stated in the original post.

  23.  

    Norma.. where you say “It appeared to me that David Bourke was systematically emotionally abused if not even emasculated in his endeavour to keep his family as he had known it”.. That was his own choice to feel that way I’m afraid. His wife wanted to be with someone else which he obviously could not deal with. I can’t say any blame rests with David Burke’s wife for him feeling emasculated and emotionally abused.
    Bock I actually agree with you that nothing justifies what David Burke did, and I would say the same for Anne Burke actually. I really don’t think the two cases can be compared though, I can see why a jury would be lenient with someone who was tormented physically/emotionally etc with intent.. that’s the key word.. intent.

  24.  

    No it isn’t. There’s no mention of intent in the judgement.

    It exclusively concerns itself with the state of mind of the accused.

  25.  

    I can’t see – upon re-reading my post how i missed the point. The mental processes of an educated middleclass man and someone of Ann Burkes background – and her husbands – are worlds apart. It’s apples and oranges.

  26.  

    Lapsedmethodist — Are they? Could you please expand?

  27.  

    Well, when I said, I guess the husband made her mental then in the jury’s opinion and you said now I’m getting the point.. don’t know if you’re being sarcastic there,. but that seems to be the reason for the difference in the outcome of the two cases. One person was seen to be responsibile for their own mental state, whereas the Jury found that the other was not responsible for their mental state – . because of the intent/actions no doubt of the ‘prepetrator’.

  28.  

    FME. I never said that any ” blame ” rested with David Bourkes wife, I deeply abhor violence of any kind, This is not about the acts committed, This is about the ” mental state ” of a person who resorts to the taking of a life in a Domestic environment and has led into the Justice meted out to those people.
    My only point is that the degree of abuse cannot be measured and my questions of the Justice system is whether or not Equality exists.
    It is basically an expansion of the consequences which occur when the basics of respect, dignity and consideration cease , or do not exist at all between a couple and how we view the exercise of equality.

  29.  

    I’m not being sarcastic.

    If you read the post, you would see that it isn’t about the conduct of either trial, but about the reaction of people in general.

    However, if you insist on debating the trials I’ll only say this.

    There are two issues. One is the jury’s decision and the other is the judge’s sentencing. Both are influenced by the accused’s mental state.

    In the Anne Burke case, the jury accepted that she was suffering from a severe depression and considered this sufficient to reduce the charge from murder to manslaughter.

    The judge subsequently accepted that her mental state was a mitigating factor in the sentencing, but made ther point in passing that Patrick Burke’s behaviour was partly responsible for his wife’s mental state.

    In both phases of the trial, the mental state of the accused was the essential issue.

    However, in the David Bourke case, the accused’s mental state was never taken into account.

    Now, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to get back to a discussion of what the post was actually about.

  30.  

    Norma, “It is basically an expansion of the consequences which occur when the basics of respect, dignity and consideration cease , or do not exist at all between a couple and how we view the exercise of equality.” There are plenty of people out there who have no respect for each other. But there’s a big difference between beating a spouse as opposed to no longer wanting to be with the spouse/partner.. Of course there will not be equality exercised in these matters.

    Bock technically, you’re probably right David Burke’s mental capacity was probably just as incapacited as Anne Burkes.. but it’s not a mitigating factor as it wasn’t directly provoked I would think. At least that’s how it would be seen I think. Not saying I agree myself. I think Anne Burke was responsible for her own mental state and there were no excuses for what she did.

  31.  

    The court decision is about the accused’s mental state at the time of the crime. Not how it was provoked.

    However, this post is about the fact that some people’s mental state can be taken into account while the mental state of others is not.

  32.  

    Bock you should be a lawyer, if you’re not! :)
    Technically you are right, but jurors are human beings.. if the mental state of everyone accused of domestic murder was taken into account and therefore mitigating the crime, no one would be convicted as most cases of domestic murder are not intentional I would think and caused by severe mental incapacity/rational faculties at the time of the crime. The reason Anne Burke’s mental state was taken into account so much, is because I think it was believed she was not responsible for it.. that’s just my opinion there of what the jurors and Judge felt.. which I actually don’t agree with. She was responsible to get help for herself and get herself out of the situation she was in.

  33.  

    The middleclass brute-in-a -suit gets no sympathy. End of. Nor does the working class fifteen pinter rolling in and dishing out violence. End of. This isn’t just about two people being treated differently ; it’s about male violence versus female violence with added class distinctions just to muddy the waters. There are very few options open to the Ann Burkes of this world and until there are I have no objection to her being treated “differently “.

  34.  

    Lapsedmethodist, why do you insist in bringing ones socio economic background in to this? Ann Burke was found guilty of manslaughter due to her mental state which was brought about be her drinking and her husbands behaviour over 30 years. Alcoholism is a disease which affects people in many different walks of life, it knows no social barriers. Ann Burke would be fairly typical of women of her generation who stayed at home to raise their family. What options are available to any woman who became a housewife? Most ran the home on a buget with no income of their own. Ann Burkes conviction and subsequent sentence has everything to do with perceptions of male / female violence and nothing to do with her “class”.

  35.  

    Perhaps the mental state of 1 person over the other is made know by who is representing them in the court of law in front of a judge and a jury.Perhaps there was a case for diminished responsibility due to mental instability in Mr.Bourkes case but was put forward in court?
    Both cases are extremely sad and brutal.And both cases leave children s mind’s to deal with what has happened.
    Bock if the post is about the mental state why then “I don’t know. Maybe there’s money in it for them. I’m sure the feminist industry is a lucrative area to work in”

  36.  

    Joanne — I made that comment in regard to the clamour to shut me up when I tried to ask about the man’s state of mind.

    To be clear, I did not suggest that David Bourke’s mental condition was a mitigating factor. I simply asked what the mental process was that led to the crime.

    This question was not permitted by the thought police, and yet now we see a woman let off because of her mental state.

    I don’t say the court was wrong. In fact, I think Anne Burke should have been let go.

    But the same people who shouted me down for asking about a killer’s state of mind are strangely silent on this, and I can only conclude that the reason is because Anne Burke is a woman.

  37.  

    No 8… I’d reccommend reading anything by John McGahern but from some ” readers reviews ” I’ve read I’m not sure people get the point ! “That they might face the rising sun ” being a case in point.

  38.  

    Bock, I like your thinking. It shocks me that the ‘diminished responsibility’ was utilized in this case. We are responsibility for our actions.

  39.  

    What thinking is that? I read “it was right and proper to examine the mental processes that led Anne Burke to commit the crime and kill her husband. “

  40.  

    I try to keep my thinking as logical and dispassionate as I can make it, though I don’t always succeed.

    It seems to me that if Anne Burke’s mental processes are worth examining, then so are David Bourke’s.

  41.  

    I was wondering if anyone would compare this to the David Bourke killing.

    And yes, the way David Bourke was treated DOES amount to abuse. I was subjected to a very long talk by women’s aid on the matter. Emotional abuse is just as bad as physical abuse, they said.

    There is absolutely a double standard, which is why Caroline Brennan is also walking around in public despite bringing a knife to that party specifically to stick it in her brother, which clearly shows an amount of forethought.

  42.  

    Mk, I don’t see how rejection of a person is deliberate emotional abuse on the part of the “wrong doer”. I’m not saying David Bourke didn’t suffer emotionally, obviously he did but was he treated in such a way as to make him suffer? You cannot know that for sure. Where as in the case of Anne Burke it seems she was subjected to intentional abuse. Not saying either one was not responsible for their own actions though and if the mental processes are taken into account for one then why not the other I suppose.. but I can see why a jury/judge would mitigate one case and not the other.
    Lesson learned for some abused women seems to be, if your dog bites and you want to put him down do so in as much of a frenzied way as possible so as not to be seen to be off right mind.

  43.  

    FME, comparing people who get their heads smashed in to dogs, classy.

    And why can’t I say that David Bourke was subjected to intentional suffering? His wife told him she was off, then changed her mind and told him he was off instead. She brought that waster into their marital bed and didn’t bother to make it back up again after. She was in bed with him and couldnt be bothered to get out when their child needed collecting after being injured at school. She snuck out at 5am for a quickie and sat there looking at him while he made their children breakfast.

    That’s intentional by my standards. Intentional to the point where she made herself feel better and ignored how he felt, just like a drunken scumbag punching his own inadequacies out on his missus/kids.

    And as for you point about women killing men in as frenzied a manner as possible, did you not pay any attention to the Caroline Brennan case I pointed out? Nothing frenzied there.

  44.  

    Apologies Mk.. not fair on dogs really is it, to compare them to how some humans act.
    All those things you attest that were done to David Bourke sound terrible.. there’s a mechanism in place to deal with spouses when they act like that.. It’s called separation and divorce. (could have equally been used by Anne Burke and David Bourke. Instead hammers and knifes were used.. I think both suffered, but both were responsible for their actions in my opinion. Maybe it is a double standard, but I can see why the Jury/Judge in Anne Burke’s trial would have more sympathy toward her)

    “That’s intentional by my standards. Intentional to the point where she made herself feel better and ignored how he felt”.. she did not love him I would think.
    “She brought that waster into their marital bed” .. gimme a break, was there a sign over the bed that said marital bed here, only name on marriage certificate allowed. There is no guarantee that marriage/kids prevents infidelity. It happens all the time.

  45.  

    You’re getting away from the point, which is this: people get screwed up mentally by their partners, and they sometimes kill them. Killing is never right, but the courts decided that one screwed-up killer deserved life in jail, while another could walk free.

  46.  

    I don’t see it as a male and female issue myself. You cannot help but go into the details of both cases to see why both had different outcomes. Where do you draw the line… In most cases of domestic killings, I don’t think the killer would be of right mind at the time. It’s fine examining the mental processes of all killers, but should it mitigate the crime.. obviously in David Bourke’s case, the Jury felt not. I presume there were some men on that Jury? Kind of see it as a waste myself, paying hundreds of thousands to lock someone up who’s not a threat to society.

  47.  

    The jury didn’t choose the sentence.

  48.  

    This journalist agrees with you Bock.
    Seems Judge Barry White could have allowed a defense of provocation but didn’t.

    http://www.tribune.ie/article/2009/apr/05/when-provocation-isnt-even-a-tenth-of-the-law/

  49.  

    FME, there’s a mechanism in place to deal with spouses when they act like that.. It’s called separation and divorce.

    Call me crazy, but Im pretty sure you can leave someone for being physically violent too.

    And STILL no one mentioning Caroline Brennan.

  50.  

    Do you want this to be about Caroline Brennan?

  51.  

    You’re getting away from the point, which is this: people get screwed up mentally by their partners, and they sometimes kill them. Killing is never right, but the courts decided that one screwed-up killer deserved life in jail, while another could walk free.

    That’s exactly what Im saying, in both cases they were pushed past the point of tolerance by the reprehensible, abusive and selfish behaviour of their other half. You don’t have to be punching someone to abuse them.

    On a slight tangent, relating to how society views female killers, there’s a documentary series on at the moment called ‘Snalled: Women who kill’. Isn’t there an inherent implication that there was an external force (the victim, usually) that applied some kind of pressure to these women until they snapped? As if women are incapable of malice.

  52.  

    I know what the point is, or at least I think I do since I wrote the goddam post.

  53.  

    Mk “Call me crazy, but Im pretty sure you can leave someone for being physically violent too.”
    I don’t know if you saw what I wrote.. but I said ‘there’s a mechanism in place to deal with spouses when they act like that.. It’s called separation and divorce. (could have equally been used by Anne Burke and David Bourke. Instead hammers and knifes were used.. I think both suffered, but both were responsible for their actions in my opinion.’ I said both.

    In the article I linked to, it says ‘Judge White expressed reservations about it (defence of provocation), suggesting it implied you now couldn’t say “boo to a goose”, without that being sufficient to use as provocation.’ Not saying I agree with that Mk but I can’t say for definite that David Bourke was “pushed past the point of tolerance by the reprehensible, abusive and selfish behaviour ‘ as you call, it by Jean Gilbert. It’s hard to say if he was provoked intentionally or was just suffering intensely due to the break up of his family.

  54.  

    I did read what you said, and you said “Sorry but I don’t see any mitigating factors in David Burke’s crime. Sure he was obviously suffering emotionally, but I’m not sure I could say his wife intended that. Whereas in the case of Anne Burke I can see why there were mitigating factors considered for her”

    I have no idea how you can possibly not see mitigating factors in his case but not in hers. She could have walked out the door instead of up the stairs. There was much more calculation in what she did.

  55.  

    It would seem Anne Burke had planned on killing her husband Mk..but only she knows that. I think her mental state was a mitigating factor though as it was seen she had suffered intentional, provocative abuse.

    I think if a woman killed her husband in such a manner because he was having an affair and this was causing distress to her she would have been convicted and sentenced in a similar fashion as David Burke.

    I have a lot of sympathy for both of these people. It’s tough commenting on people who’ve found themselves in this predicament, as I don’t know them.. I have no doubt both were suffering.

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