Tuesday 25 July 2017

Appeal court orders retrial for man convicted of killing woman in house fire

Jason Murphy at an earlier court appearance
Jason Murphy at an earlier court appearance

Aodhan O'Faolain

THE Court of Criminal Appeal has ordered a retrial in the case of a 39-year-old Co Tipperary man convicted for the manslaughter of a woman who died in a house fire almost six years ago.

Jason Murphy, of Elm Park in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, who was found guilty in March 2010 of the manslaughter of 50-year-old Ann-Marie O'Neill at Elm Park, Clonmel, on April 27, 2007, and of two counts of arson.

In 2010 Mr Murphy had pleaded not guilty to all charges and had appealed against his convictions on grounds including that Judge Thomas Teehan had erred in law and fact including that he had failed to properly give adequate and appropriate corroboration warning to the jury at Clonmel Circuit Criminal Court.

This morning the three-judge court comprising Mr Justice Liam McKechnie, Mr Justice Daniel O'Keeffe and Mr Justice Michael White agreed that Mr Murphy's trial was unsatisfactory, that his convictions should be set aside, and ordered a retrial.

The DPP had opposed the appeal and argued that the conviction should stand. Mr Murphy was not present in court when the decision was read out. He has was remanded in custody with consent to bail pending his retrial.

During Mr Murphy's trial in 2010 the court heard that a fire was started in the car owned by Mrs O’Neill’s husband, Pat, parked in the driveway of their home in Elm Park, Clonmel.

The fire spread to their house while they slept upstairs. Mr O’Neill escaped by jumping from a bedroom window but Mrs O’Neill was unable to escape and died.

Following his conviction, Mr Murphy was sentenced by Judge Teehan to 15 years’ imprisonment for manslaughter, 12 years for arson to the car and seven years for arson to the house.

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