Sunday 22 October 2017

Inquest adjourned as witness to carpenter's death changes evidence

Siobhan Whitaker. Inset: Maurice Martin found stabbed to death in Finglas
Siobhan Whitaker. Inset: Maurice Martin found stabbed to death in Finglas

Gareth Naughton

An inquest into the stabbing to death of an apprentice carpenter was dramatically adjourned when one of the witnesses changed her evidence.

Siobhan Whitaker was in the witness box at the inquest into the death of Maurice Martin (21) from Silverlawns in Navan, Co Meath, who was found stabbed to death at the junction of Cardiffsbridge Road and Tolka Valley Road in Finglas on June 12, 2009.

Mr Martin was in the final weeks of his carpentry course when he died. Dublin Coroner's Court heard that on the night he was stabbed he had been in a city centre nightclub with his classmates celebrating the end of their exams. His mother Paula Brennan said that when she last spoke to him he was in “great form” and he had never been in fear for his life.

The group of classmates went to Bondi niteclub on the quays on the evening of June 11. Classmate Marc Casey said that Mr Martin spent most of the time talking to three girls and had already left when the club closed at 3am.

In her statement to gardai, initially read out at the inquest, Ms Whitaker claimed that she went home from Bondi niteclub, where she had been out with friends, accompanied by a man called “Graham” who was then attacked by two men as they arrived at her door. She had been dropped at the nightclub by Daniel Gaynor, a boyfriend of one of her friends, she said. 

However, after the statement was read out, Ms Whitaker said that she was "not being truthful" when she gave it. She was told what to say in her statement by Gaynor after he had threatened her, she said. Gaynor was the chief suspect in the stabbing. He was murdered in a gangland killing in August 2010.

Whitaker said that she met Mr Martin in the nightclub and he offered to come back to her house after her friends had left with her keys and money. They got a taxi and stopped off to collect the keys before going back to her house at Valeview Drive in Finglas.

“Just as we went in there was a bang at the door. I opened it and Daniel ran into the house. He chased Maurice up the stairs into my son’s bedroom and Maurice jumped into the wardrobe. Daniel was attacking him. I was pulling and screaming at Daniel and this gave Maurice a chance to run away. Daniel chased him and I ran after him. They ran through Kippure Park and I lost them at that point,” she said.

She did not see the stabbing, she said. At the conclusion of her evidence, she offered her apologies.

Detective Inspector Colm Murphy earlier told the court that the principle suspect in the stabbing is now dead. A number of arrests were made and a file went to the director of public prosecutions (DPP) with one person prosecuted and convicted in relation to the aftermath of the incident.

This was Whitaker who received an 18 months sentence at the Circuit Criminal Court in January for impeding the apprehension of an individual who she knew or believed to be guilty of murder.

Following her evidence at the inquest Det  Insp Murphy said that this ground had already been covered with the DPP.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that in light of the new evidence given at the inquest, he needed to adjourn to allow gardaí the chance to re-interview Whitaker to ensure there is no other information in relation to the incident. 

All other witnesses were stood down and the inquest was adjourned for further mention on October 10.

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