Accused poured boiling water over pensioner as he thought he might be a child molester, court hears
A man said he poured boiling water over a disabled pensioner’s genitals and beat the victim’s elderly brother in his bed because he thought that, as they were living together, 'maybe’ they were child molesters.
Alan Cawley’s murder trial also heard details of the extensive injuries suffered by the elderly brothers in what the State Pathologist described as ‘overkill’.
The 30-year-old is on trial at the Central Criminal Court, charged with murdering Thomas Blaine and John (Jack) Blaine. Both had special needs and speech impediments.
Mr Cawley of Four Winds, Corrinbla, Ballina, Co Mayo has admitted killing the brothers. However, he has pleaded not guilty to murdering them on 10th July 2013 at New Antrim Street in Castlebar.
Sergeant Hugh O’Donnell testified today that he interviewed Mr Cawley following his arrest.
He told Denis Vaughan Buckley SC, prosecuting, that the accused had initially denied involvement. However, he said his memory came back when gardaí showed him CCTV footage of him entering the Blaine home with Jack Blaine.
He said he had gone upstairs looking for sleeping tablets or drugs, but couldn’t find any. He came back downstairs and the man with whom he had entered the house was in the kitchen.
“He was very clingy and he wouldn’t speak properly so i asked: ‘What’s wrong? What are you looking for?’” he said. “I felt the best idea was to show the man that men can’t always get what they want, ... that if I inflicted some pain, it would make up for everything in the past.”
He said that he beat him with a stick before making his way to the front door. However he saw another man in a bed at the front of the house.
“I thought that if they were living together, maybe that the two of them were child molesters,” he said.
He said he hit this man with a stick about 25 times before returning to the first man.
“I thought it was a fitting punishment to put hot water on his genital area,” he said.
He said he did this, after first waiting for a kettle of water to boil.
State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy carried out the post-mortem exams on both brothers. She testified that each had been the victim of a violent assault.
She gave Thomas Blaine’s cause of death as blood loss, brain trauma, chest trauma, and choking on blood due to blunt injuries to his head, face and chest.
Contributory factors were blunt trauma to his limbs and fractures of his Adam’s Apple, right wrist and hand bones.
She outlined ‘severe and extensive’ injuries to his head, neck, chest and limbs. These included ‘significant’ fractures to his skull, which was fragmented in one area, and further fractures of his breastbone, multiple ribs and a bone in each hand.
She said that some of his bruises were in ‘a tramline pattern’ that suggested he had been struck with something long and narrow. It would have also been fairly heavy, she added.
She said he could have been struck up to 12 times to the head, five times to the chest, six or more times to the hands and arms, and a number of times to the hip and thigh. Considerable force would have been needed to inflict the skull injuries.
She said that, despite the violence of the assault, his death was not immediate: there was clear evidence that he had swallowed and inhaled a significant amount of blood from his facial injuries.
She said that the pattern of trauma and blood staining at the scene suggested that the initial assault took place while he was lying on his bed and that he had attempted to defend himself.
She explained that injuries to his arms were typical of defensive injuries.
The cause of his brother, Jack Blaine’s, death was blunt force trauma to the head, which caused blood loss, brain injury and obstruction of breathing due to facial injuries.
A scalding injury and blunt trauma to his chest and limbs were contributory factors.
He had received multiple fractures to his skull. A piece of bone had become embedded in his brain, which was bruised.
One tooth had been dislodged from its socket and was found in his stomach. He had also swallowed and inhaled blood from his injuries.
A flap of skin was missing from the back of his right hand, where a gouge had been taken out of the skin, she said.
She explained that he appeared to have made fairly feeble attempts to defend himself, which was most likely due to his physical disability; she explained that he had curvature of the spine.
She noted that there was evidence that his trunk, arms, legs and genital area had been scalded, with the pattern suggesting he was sitting when hot liquid was poured or thrown onto his exposed skin; when found, his upper clothing was pulled up to expose his abdomen and his lower clothing pulled down to expose his genital area.
“Such burns would be extremely painful,” she explained.
Under cross examination by Caroline Biggs SC, defending, she said it was difficult to categorise a type of killing based on the perpetrator’s state of intoxication.
“However, in this case there appears to have been what pathologists call ‘overkill’, with numerous injuries, far more than necessary to subdue, overcome or kill a person,” she explained.
“In the majority of cases I deal with, the injuries nowhere reach this extreme degree of violence,” she continued. “In this case, the violence does seem to have been coordinated. There’s evidence of scalding, a very purposeful act.”
While she said that this was ‘a sustained and violent assault’, she noted that the scalding suggested that there had been ‘a break in proceedings’.
“It’s an unusual pattern,” she said.
She agreed that, given the lack of ‘cellular reaction’ and the position in which Jack Blaine was found, it was ‘more than likely’ that he was unconscious when scalded.
She was re-examined by Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, who asked about the level of violence.
“This was the extreme of violence,” she replied.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Paul Coffey and a jury of four women and eight men.