News Courts

Friday 22 August 2014

'It's like a nightmare we can't wake up from' - Mother of man killed after being crushed by bus tells court

Conor Gallagher

Published 04/06/2014 | 15:36

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Gardai investigating the incident on Dawson street in Dublin where a man died after falling in front of a bus. Photo: Collins

A homeless man who killed an acquaintance by knocking him under a Dublin Bus in Dublin city centre a year and a half ago may avoid a jail term.

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Last month a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jury found Edward Connors (30) guilty following an eight day manslaughter trial. This morning he also admitted injuring, threatening or intimating two people with a syringe in separate incidents.

Eoghan Dudley (28) died almost instantly from “catastrophic and traumatic injuries” after going under the left rear wheel of the bus on Dawson Street during rush hour traffic. Both men were heroin users at the time and both had the drug in their system at the time of the death.

The victim’s injuries were so severe that he could not be identified. Gardaí had to issue a public appeal and use a DNA test to find out who he was.

Today the court heard evidence from the victim’s mother who said she would “give anything to see my son one last time.”

Judge Patrick McCartan remanded Connors in custody for sentence on October 7, next. He said he doesn’t propose to send Connors to prison if it can be avoided because of the lack of facilities there for deaf people. He said he hoped that the Dudley family could appreciate his dilemma.

He said the incident was as close to an accident as can be by law. Referring to Connors' background he said: “It's hard to conceive someone who has come from tougher circumstances.”

He described the prison conditions as “unacceptable” and said he was duty bound to inquire into alternatives to prison given the “unique circumstances” of the case.

He put the matter back for a Probation Service report, but said that if there were no alternatives then he would have to protect the community and impose a prison sentence. 

Connors of no fixed abode and formerly of Bearna Park, Sandyford, admitted interacting with the deceased but claimed that what looked like a punch on CCTV footage is actually him trying to grab Mr Dudley to stop him falling off the path and going under the bus.

He had pleaded not guilty to unlawfully killing Mr Dudley on December 6, 2012.

Connors, who is deaf mute, also pleaded guilty to two counts of using a syringe to cause injury or threaten to cause injury at Balally Shopping Centre, Sandyford on May 17, 2012 and at Lotts Lane on August 18, 2012. He will be sentenced for these offences on July 4 next.

Mr Dudley’s mother, Noleen, described the fear she felt when she heard about the death and “the dreadful confirmation” that it was her son. She said her son was in the wrong place at the wrong time and “it could have been anyone walking down Dawson Street”.

During an emotional victim impact statement she described Eoghan as bright, kind and loving and said that his death is “like a nightmare that we haven’t and can’t wake up from.”

“I would give anything for another five minutes with my son just to hug him and tell him how much we love him no matter what.”

Ms Dudley said her daughter very nearly came across the scene of the killing as it was on her normal route but “mercifully” decided to go a slightly different way that day.

During the trial, seven eyewitnesses gave evidence that they saw Connors punch Mr Dudley immediately before he fell off the crowded footpath. The jury also viewed a large amount of CCTV footage, including of the moments the victim went under the bus.

After his arrest Connors denied his guilt and tried to blame his friend, who was with him at the time, for the killing. He later admitted making some contact with Mr Dudley and blamed the former head shop drug “snow blow”.

“It was all because of blow,” he told gardaí. “I was off my head. I don’t know.”

Detective Inspector Michael Cryan told Tom O’Connell SC, prosecuting, that Connors and his friend Mark Moore had been out begging and taking heroin that day.

They were walking up Dawson Street at about 5.30pm when they spotted Mr Dudley. Connors started “gesturing aggressively” towards him and then stood in his way at the edge of the footpath.

Connors then punched Mr Dudley to the face causing him to fall backwards into rush hour traffic. He went under the bus and was killed instantly.

Mr Moore, who witnessed the entire incident later called gardaí and told them what happened. Connors was identified from CCTV footage and arrested shortly after.

He initially denied touching the victim but later said he had tried to reach out and grab him while his fist was closed.

Mr O’Connell said the defence had presented evidence that Mr Dudley was unsteady on his feet from taking heroin. He said this was unsupported by the CCTV footage which showed him walking “perfectly normally.”

Connor’s defence counsel Caroline Biggs SC presented evidence that because he is deaf he will be particularly isolated in prison.

He has been homeless for the last eight years and a heavy heroin user since 19 years old.

Social worker Teresa O'Rourke told Ms Biggs that Connors is on 23 hour lock up in prison and only gets the chance to speak in sign once a month when she visits him.

Ms Biggs submitted to Judge McCartan that her client's life is “no more than survival”. She said though Connors is welcome at the family home, his father can't communicate with him through sign.

She said there was no suggestion of pre-meditation in the one punch assault which had “catastrophic consequences.”

She asked the judge to consider that there are no special services in prison to cater for Connors.

Judge McCartan extended his “deepest sympathies” to the deceased family.

He said he appreciated Ms Dudley's depiction of her son as a young man who was “deeply loved” as it gave him a different impression of the deceased.

He said nothing can replace the Dudley family's loss and that “sympathy is all we can extend.”

The judge gave special mention to witnesses in the case who had preserved Mr Dudley's dignity at the scene by covering his body and shielding its view from other members of the public.

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