Teenager faints after conviction for killing boyfriend

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The Independent Online

A sixth-former accused of fatally stabbing her boyfriend in the heart hours after collecting her A-level results screamed and fainted as she was found guilty of manslaughter today.

Katherine McGrath, 19, of Brackla, Bridgend, south Wales, plunged a steak knife into the heart of boyfriend Alyn Thomas, 22, in a single thrust which proved fatal, the court was told.

Roger Thomas QC, prosecuting, told jurors that McGrath killed Mr Thomas during an argument after a night out drinking with friends but she was cleared of murder earlier today.

It took the six-man, six-woman jury more than 10 hours to clear McGrath of murder but convict her of manslaughter.

As the verdict was read out, McGrath screamed then fainted as her family and friends sobbed, and Mr Thomas's family embraced.

John Charles Rees QC, defending, said McGrath produced the knife to scare off Mr Thomas when he became aggressive and she had not meant to hurt him.

Mr Rees said: "There is no doubt there was a sudden eruption of violence but why should Miss McGrath suddenly become the aggressor and attack Mr Thomas?"

He told Cardiff Crown Court Mr Thomas had two convictions for assault and asked jurors: "Who is the more likely to become aggressive? To take part in an unprovoked attack in drink?"

He said the single 2.5cm stab wound, lack of bruising around the incision and lack of evidence of great force being used supported the claim his client had not intentionally killed Mr Thomas.

He said the couple were engaged in a physical struggle, during which their bodies were close together and because the skin on the chest is tight, the knife would have slid in "like a knife through butter".

The wounds McGrath sustained when she claimed Mr Thomas bit her on the thumb during the confrontation were further evidence of his aggression, he added.

Mr Thomas QC said essential parts of McGrath's explanation of self defence were "misleading" and added: "There is no justification for taking hold of what was a weapon, a steak knife, and using it to kill Alyn Thomas."

During the trial the jury heard McGrath's 999 call in which she told the operator: "He's my boyfriend and he like came and attacked me and I didn't know what to do."

She also told the operator he pushed her to the floor and spat at her and tried to hit her.

The court was told McGrath had got a place at university through the clearing system on the day of the A Level results and Mr Thomas had told a friend he was worried she would meet somebody else while away from home.

Mr Rees said: "A young man's emotions can be complex in a relationship with a young woman. Jealousy and possessiveness are just below the surface."

He said Mr Thomas, 22, already did not trust McGrath and suspected she had been unfaithful and his concerns had been exacerbated when she collected her exam results and got a place at university.

He denied McGrath was jealous her boyfriend had accepted drinks from a colleague who worked with him at Tesco on the night he died.

Mr Thomas, of Cymmer, near Neath, died in hospital after being stabbed in the kitchen of McGrath's detached family home in the early hours of August 21 last year.

In a statement read by family liaison officer Detective Constable Rebecca Merchant outside court, Mr Thomas's family said they were "shocked and dismayed" that McGrath declined to face questioning under oath "so we will never know exactly what transpired on that fatal morning".

They added: "Alyn was a very loving and caring soul, and was loved and respected by so many people of various ages.

"Alyn left footprints on your heart, even after the briefest encounter, because his love for life was so infectious.

"During the short time Alyn was on this earth his worth was measured by his numerous true friends and respect he had earned, wealth that money or material possessions cannot buy.

"As parents, we are so proud to have created such a beautiful and well-loved person as our Al.

"Even though Kat has destroyed our creation she cannot take away the 22 years we had him with us, and the many cherished memories to remember him by.

"That is Alyn's legacy, left to all who truly loved him.

"God bless you Alyn, your spirit will live on in our hearts."