Accused grew up in home full of violence, murder trial told
Nuns give evidence of mum 'bleeding with black eyes' and 'sad' children
A MAN accused of murdering his father was protective of his siblings and mother as the family grew up in a house filled with domestic violence, a nun told his trial yesterday.
Sr Mary Moloney was one of two nuns to give evidence in the trial of James McInerney (23), of Lacey Avenue, Templemore, Co Tipperary.
He has pleaded not guilty to murdering James 'Jimmy' McInerney Snr (56) at the family home on June 17, 2009.
The defendant told gardai he had attacked him with a spade after taking 21 years of his beatings.
Sr Moloney and Sr Breda Coman outlined a history of domestic violence in the family to the court. They had attended regular case conferences on the family with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and gardai.
Sr Moloney became involved with the family in 1998 through her work as a nurse and social worker. She said she had known the accused since he was a teenager and found him to be pleasant and well-mannered.
"I saw him as an adult in the home. He took on a parenting role far beyond his years," she said. "He was protective of his mother and siblings and was especially kind to his sister with special needs.
"At times I'd have visited the house in the aftermath of an episode of domestic violence," she said. "The children were quiet, subdued and sad." She added that she had often consulted the gardai about the family in the run-up to Christmas and family events.
"I insisted Mrs McInerney get a mobile phone so she wouldn't have to run to the phone booth to call for help," she recalled.
Sr Coman told the Central Criminal Court she met the defendant and his siblings as principal of their primary school and as a member of Templemore Travellers Support Group.
She said their mother would arrive at her house a few nights every year.
"It was always a case of running away from a violent situation," she said, referring to violence by the deceased. "She was bleeding and had black eyes."
She said she and her colleagues in the school found the children withdrawn, sad and sometimes tense.
"We never saw a smile," one teacher had said to her about the children.
Sr Moloney said she had found the accused man remorseful since the incident.
Earlier, State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy said the victim died of blunt trauma to the head, with blunt trauma to his chest and abdomen contributing to his death.
She described severe head and facial injuries, including 15 lacerations to his face, an extensive fracture to his skull and fractures to his cheek bones and nose. She said brain damage resulting from the skull fracture could have caused his death, as could inhalation of the blood in his mouth.
He had blunt injuries to his trunk, crushing his liver and cracking ribs. She said there was no evidence of defensive injuries, meaning it was a swift attack.
She suggested that if all of the injuries were caused by the spade, then six blows from the flat part of the spade would have been needed: one to the top of the head, one to either side of the head, one to the face, one to the chest and one to the abdomen.
She said that the blow to the top of the skull was most likely inflicted when he was on the ground.
"It's not a very hefty spade," she said, holding the spade.
"Such extensive damage to the skull would suggest his head was supported, not upright," she said.
Closing speeches will be made on Monday.