Wednesday 16 August 2017

Gardai wearing stab vests forced to hold mob back amid angry scenes in court

Tuesday 09 June 2015. Kennelsfort Road Lower, Palmerston. Scene of assault.
Tuesday 09 June 2015. Kennelsfort Road Lower, Palmerston. Scene of assault.
Tuesday 09 June 2015. Kennelsfort Road Lower, Palmerston. Scene of assault.
Tuesday 09 June 2015. Kennelsfort Road Lower, Palmerston. Scene of assault.
Peter Conroy
Stock picture

Eoin Reynolds

Prison officers and gardai wearing stab vests had to hold an angry mob back in court after a man was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

There were angry and violent scenes when a man was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter at the Central Criminal Court on Wednesday. The incident spilled out of the courtroom.

Terence 'Terry' Connors (42) of Drumcairn Avenue, Tallaght, Dublin 24 had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Peter Conroy (25) at Palmerstown Lodge B&B, Kennelsfort Road Lower, Palmerstown, Dublin 20 on June 9, 2015.

His plea was not accepted by the prosecution and when the jury of seven women and five men returned their verdict, family and friends of the deceased began shouting and surged towards Mr Connors, who stood with his head bowed. Prison officers and gardai wearing stab vests held the group back.

One woman shouted: "He stabbed four people and he's getting done for manslaughter," while another shouted at members of Mr Connors' family, who were also protected by gardai.

There were shouts of "that's f*cking murder," as gardai tried to remove people from the court. Other members of the group tried to restore calm but the angry scenes continued in the lobby of the court and onto Parkgate Street.

The jury had spent more than five hours considering the verdict, which the foreman said was arrived at by a majority of ten to two. The jury found Connors guilty by unanimous verdict of a second count of assaulting Elaine Blunt on the same occasion and on the same date.

Justice Paul Butler had just begun thanking the jury for their service when the court erupted and the jury members were escorted out of the room. He adjourned the case for mention on January 17.

Evidence

During the one week trial the jury heard that Mr Conroy died after suffering knife injuries to the head and neck. State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy said the fatal wound severed a vein causing him to die from bleeding and shock.

The prosecution relied on CCTV footage and the statement of one witness, Elaine Blunt, who said that she saw Mr Connors stab Mr Conroy with a knife.

The CCTV showed a row involving two women and several men that began in the B&B at about 3.30am. Most of those involved, including the accused but not the deceased, had been at a wedding reception in Stillorgan earlier that day.

Connors arrived home shortly after midnight and went to bed but he told gardai that he woke up to hear his children "roaring and shouting" and calling out for him. He said a fight had erupted downstairs and he grabbed a knife before rushing down.

His partner, Brigid Connors, was involved in a fight with Elaine Blunt on the ground floor when Mr Connors came downstairs. He kicked Ms Blunt and was found guilty of assault for this.

The fight between the two women continued with one man trying to separate them. He opened the front door of the B&B to put them outside and a group of other men entered, leading to a fight involving the deceased and two of his associates against people living at the B&B.

When one of the men threw a naggin of vodka at the accused or his son, who was standing beside him, the accused produced the knife and launched the fatal attack. Garnet Orange SC, for the defence, told the jury that his client was defending his family and should therefore be acquitted of the murder charge.

Justice Paul Butler told the jury there were three verdicts open to them. If they believed he was acting in defence of himself or his family and used no more force than was necessary, he said they should find him not guilty.

If they believed he was defending himself or his family but used more force than was necessary, they should find him not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

He told the jury to consider if the threat was "imminent" and if the accused man had an opportunity to retreat.

If the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that he was not acting in self defence, and that he intended to kill or cause serious injury, they should convict him of murder, he said.

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