Thug gouged ex-girlfriend's eye and threw it off 8th-floor balcony in attack branded 'medieval in its barbarity' by judge


Jealous: Francis Murphy being led into the High Court in Edinburgh

A thug high on drink and drugs gouged out his former lover's eye during a murder bid and threw it from an eighth-floor balcony.

Francis Murphy was today jailed for 12 years by a judge who told him he had committed a crime of 'almost medieval barbarity'.

An earlier trial heard how jealous Murphy attacked Natalie Farrell, 27, with the wire of a coat hanger as he threatened: 'I am taking your eye out you f****** cow.'  

After flinging her eye from the eighth floor of a Dundee high-rise, evil Murphy then tried to throw her over the balcony as well.

Ms Farrell didn't realise what had happened - until a friend found the eye and gave it to paramedics who had been called to the block of flats.

She did not return to the High Court in Edinburgh today where Murphy was sentenced.

Murphy, 26 - father of Natalie's son - admitted ripping out her eye, but denied that he also tried to kill her by throwing her over the balcony.

A jury found him guilty of attempted murder.

Sentencing Murphy, 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.'  

The life-or-death struggle on the balcony was witnessed by Noel Pittham, 53, who kept up a running commentary as police headed to the scene, telling them what he could see from his vantage point in the neighbouring tower block.

Ms Farrell had to re-live the terror of the evening of May 26 - facing the man who disfigured her for life.

Medics are still working on fitting her with an artificial right eye.

She said a ten-year relationship with Murphy had just ended and she had moved into an eighth-floor flat just days before.

There was a new man in her life and Murphy wasn't taking it very well.

'He always told me if he couldn't have me, nobody else could have me,' she said.

But Murphy had always put on an 'old pals act' with new partner Paul Stanton and the attack came 'out of the blue.' 

Advocate depute Iain McSporran, prosecuting, asked how she felt about what had happened.

Ms Farrell told him: 'I cannot really put it into words. It is just, I ken I don't look right any more. I have lost half my sight. That is me disabled for life now.'  

The trial heard how Ms Farrell and Mr Stanton were expecting a visitor so when the buzzer sounded she left the door open and re-joined Mr Stanton.

She was shocked and nervous when Murphy came in.

'He was under the influence of drugs and also heavily intoxicated with drink,' she claimed.

He sat on the bedroom floor and demanded a roll-up cigarette, which she gave him.

'I seen a metal thing in his hand. It was like a paper clip opened out.'  

Murphy slashed at Mr Stanton, 31, with the coat hanger and he ran from the flat to get help.

Murphy then turned to her, she said, and told her: 'I am taking your eye out you f****** cow.'  

She told the trial: 'He had the hook or the coat hanger and he was trying to get that into my eye.'  

He then tried to get his thumb and two fingers into her eye, she said, then put his hands round her throat and strangled her until she blacked out.

Mr McSporran asked if she felt her eye being pulled out.

Ms Farrell replied: 'Because of the adrenalin and the fear I didn't feel pain at the time. And as soon as he done that he strangled me and I went unconscious.

'I only felt pain when I woke up in hospital.'  

She knew she could not outrun Murphy down the stairs, or wait for a lift, so she tried to hide on a balcony used as a bin chute.

He saw her and began attacking her again, she said, trying to pull her by the legs towards the rail of the balcony.

Murphy then made a move as if to brush hair from her face.

Murphy, who had been living in a homeless hostel in Dundee, claimed to have had no recollection of what happened.

The court heard that Murphy had a record for dishonesty but had never before been convicted of a crime of violence.

Solicitor advocate Iain Paterson, defending, blamed the horror crime 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.

After the jury had returned their verdicts the judge told them he recognised it had been distressing for them as strangers to court. 'It is not the sort of case that is run of the mill for us either,' he added.

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