Sunday 24 September 2017

Eoin Ryan murder trial hears 999 caller claim he had killed the devil

Victim: Eoin Ryan
Victim: Eoin Ryan

Niamh O'Donoghue

A murder trial jury has heard a recording of a 999 call in which the caller told gardai that he had killed the devil.

The tape was played at the Central Criminal Court today in the trial of a Clare man charged with murdering a 21-year-old student in the county two years ago.

Joe Heffernan (33) of Cappagh Beg, Barefield, Ennis has pleaded not guilty to murdering Eoin Ryan at that address on June 7, 2011.

Bernard Condon SC, prosecuting, described the deceased as an accomplished young man. The youngest of three, he had finished university and spent some time travelling around Europe before returning home to Newhall in Clare.

He was working for the summer and had planned to move to Belfast, but met ‘an awful death’, he said.

“He had been out on the night of the 6th of June with two girl friends,” he explained. “Eoin had come out. He was a young gay man.”

He said that the deceased and his two female friends ended up in a pub. Alone in the same pub was the accused, an only child who lived and worked on the family farm in Cappagh Beg, he said.

“In the early hours, Eoin appears to have disappeared out of the company of the two girls and appears to have gone in a taxi with the accused out to Cappagh Beg,” he said.

He told the jury that Mr Heffernan rang the gardai at 6.05am to say he had killed someone.

Two 999 calls was later played to the jury, who were also given transcripts of the calls.

“Hello. This is Joe Heffernan. I’m after killing a man,” the caller told Garda Claire O’Shaughnessy, who identified her voice on the first recording.

“He came onto me and I killed him. I’m not gay or nothing you know,” he said.

“I’m going to kill myself. I’m not going to prison,” he added.

Garda O’Shaughnessy repeatedly asked for directions to the scene.

“The devil was in him you know. The devil was in his eyes,” he said. “I could see him in his eyes.”

The caller said he didn’t mean to kill anyone.

“I’m going to join my father in Heaven,” he said.

Garda Niall Cosgrave then gave evidence of receiving a second 999 call.

“I killed the devil,” said the caller. “The devil came for me but I took him.”

Gda Cosgrave could be heard telling the caller that he had been trying to phone him for directions.

“I’m going to kill myself,” he said, adding that he had killed Satan, who had come ‘in the form of a child’.

Gda Cosgrave told him that his mother had phoned and said that his father had died recently.

“So she’ll be on her own if anything happens to you,” said the garda.

“I put him in a barrel,” said the caller.

“Who?” asked Gda Cosgrave.

“The devil,” replied the caller.

“How did you know it was the devil?” asked the garda.

“His eyes,” he replied.

Garda Cosgrave said that he later received a call from Eoin Ryan’s father to say his son had not come home the night before.

Mr Condon told the jury that the gardai had already found Mr Ryan’s body upside down in a barrel in a field in Cappagh Beg.

He told the jurors they would hear details of the multiplicity of injuries he had received and that the cause of his death was severe and extensive trauma to his head.

“This man was essentially beaten to death,” he said.

“A socket wrench was found. The blood of Eoin Ryan was found on that,” he added.

Garda Paul Crowley of the Clare Divisional Crime Unit later agreed with the defence that he saw a large amount of religious portraits in Mr Heffernan’s house when he examined the scene. He also agreed that he found a number of books about communicating with the dead in his bedroom.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of seven women and five men.

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