'Jealous' Knaresborough woman's 'terrifying' knife attack

A businesswoman attacked her friend with a kitchen knife in a fit of jealousy because she wanted the victim’s boyfriend, a court heard.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 10:24 am
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 10:25 am

Olivia Yates, a 29-year-old qualified equine dentist, was said to be “infatuated” with the boyfriend of Aine Murphy, a successful young woman who had counted Yates as a close friend before her ordeal in the early hours of February 2 last year.

York Crown Court heard that Yates, Miss Murphy and another female friend had been out for a drink in Harrogate where the friendly, convivial atmosphere gave no indication of what was to come later that evening.

Prosecutor Rob Galley said there was apparently “little or no animosity between the parties” before Yates’s knife rampage, during which she damaged a picture of Miss Murphy’s boyfriend.

The case was heard at York Crown Court.

During the night out at the Banyan restaurant in Harrogate, “drinks were consumed” and Yates became “upset and was crying, seemingly in relation to a boyfriend” after they had split up.

Yates became “extremely drunk” and her mood soured by the time the friends returned to Miss Murphy’s home in Bolton Street, where there was a “strange atmosphere” and Yates was giving her friend “strange looks”.

Suddenly, Yates pulled out the “largest” blade from the knife block in the kitchen. She was stood about three feet away from Miss Murphy as she brandished the blade towards her “very frightened” friend.

“Yates was not saying anything but smirking; the knife was raised,” added Mr Galley.

Miss Murphy, whose other friend was upstairs, ran away. The “terrified” victim ran into the living room and shouted up to her friend for help.

“They managed to barricade themselves in the living room and held the living-room door closed,” added Mr Galley.

But then Yates forced the door open. Miss Murphy and her friend ran from the house and got into their car as Yates chased after them.

Miss Murphy, who was in the driver’s side, finally managed to lock the door as Yates stabbed at the window and “door area” and tried to get in.

Yates finally gave up after stabbing the window “for about two minutes” and walked off in the direction of Kings Road. She ended up at a house in Craven Street where three female friends - complete strangers to Yates - were having a get-together.

“They heard some banging at the door,” said Mr Galley.

One of the women, who owned the house, looked outside to see Yates holding a knife, looking “agitated and upset”.

“The defendant was making reference to (a named man understood to be the boyfriend of Miss Murphy) who was she was looking for,” said Mr Galley. “She insisted that the bloke must be in their kitchen and wanted to check.”

The terrifying incident lasted about 20 minutes before one of the women managed to persuade Yates to put the knife down.

Yates, of Halfpenny Lane, Knaresborough, was arrested and admitted affray, threatening her friend with a blade and damaging a car windscreen and a picture frame.

Aine Murphy, originally from Ireland, said she was “tormented day and night” by what might have happened to her “had Olivia got her way that night”.

“The fact that she wanted to hurt me and possibly kill me keeps me awake at night,” she added. “I’ve had to take time off work; my relationships have suffered. Make no mistake, if it wasn’t for my quick-thinking actions that night, she would have tried to kill me.”

Miss Murphy said Yates was jealous that she was with a man whom she also coveted, adding: “She wanted to take everything away that I had worked so hard for. It disturbs me that she wanted my boyfriend so much that she wanted to kill me.”

Defence barrister Kelly Lodge said Yates’s actions were “clearly out of character”.

She said that Yates, who is educated to degree level in veterinary science and works in veterinary pharmaceutical sales, didn’t have “any recollection” of either of the incidents and was “normally a kind, caring, friendly” person.

Judge Simon Hickey said it was a “bizarre and disturbing” case because Yates was otherwise “of impeccable character”. He told the defendant: “The underlying reason for the attack is that you were infatuated with Miss Murphy’s boyfriend and you thought that he should have been your boyfriend.”

Yates was given a 16-month prison sentence, but this was suspended for a year because she was “full or remorse”, was a hard worker and had no previous convictions. She was also ordered to complete 100 hours’ unpaid work and a 20-day rehabilitation course.