Sunday 23 April 2017

Garda's son guilty of killing Traveller

GORDON DEEGAN

A GARDA's son was last night convicted of the manslaughter of 14-year-old Traveller Michael Doherty.

The trial heard that shortly after the stabbing, John McGovern (19) of Ballyduff, Barefield, Ennis, told his friend Kate McDaid in a phone conversation: "He was a knacker, he deserved it".

In a garda interview the following day, McGovern said: "I don't think I could've said that. No, I didn't say that . . . I find that revolting and find it difficult that I could've said that."

McGovern was found guilty of the manslaughter but not guilty of the murder of Michael Doherty of Ashline, Ennis, at O'Connell Street in the Clare town on June 23, 2007.

The jury of eight men and four women took three hours and 40 minutes to deliver its majority 11-1 verdict at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Ennis.

In a packed courtroom, Mr Justice Paul Carney ordered that Mr McGovern be remanded in custody for sentencing in Dublin on March 30 next.

The jury also found Mr McGovern -- who was 17 at the time of the killing -- guilty of producing a knife during a fight at the same place on the same date.

Mr McGovern was accompanied out of the courtroom by his father and local garda John McGovern Snr as Michael Doherty's parents, John and Nora looked on.

The young man stabbed Michael Doherty during a fight outside Supermac's restaurant on Ennis's O'Connell Street on a day of the Spancilhill Fair in June 2007.

McGovern told gardai that he was shocked that he had pulled a knife on somebody and had only taken out the knife to scare Michael Doherty and didn't mean to make contact.

He also told gardai that he didn't realise that he had stabbed Michael Doherty.

McGovern -- who has no previous convictions -- told gardai that he received the Swiss army knife as a present from his grandparents.

In his closing speech, John O'Kelly SC, for the State, said that the fight took a terrible and decisive turn for the worse when McGovern was knocked to the ground and took out a knife.

Mr O'Kelly said: "He is full of anger. He very deliberately takes the knife out of his pocket and despite being held back, he makes sure that he gets in a swing to land the killer blow."

Mr O'Kelly said that McGovern had shown not a shred of remorse in the aftermath of the attack.

However, in his closing speech, Patrick Gageby SC, for McGovern, said that "not within an inch could this be described as murder or culpable homicide".

Mr Gageby said that there was no intent by McGovern to kill or even cause serious harm when he swung out with the knife.

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