A jury has begun deliberating in the trial of a teenager charged with murdering Melanie McCarthy McNamara, after hearing closing speeches from each side.
Daniel McDonnell’s barrister told jurors that there wasn’t a scintilla of evidence against his client apart from two letters he wrote in prison, which he described as ‘rants to his friend and girlfriend’.
The Central Criminal Court trial had heard that one of the letters included the words: “Close-range head shots. That’s what I’m going for… Two in the head. The bitch is dead. Ha ha… Little did he know I had a loaded 12-guage. Left his bitch all over the Sunday World front page.”
In the second letter, the accused wrote: “That other thing wouldn’t have happened if I’d known she was in the car. It was meant for that other smell bag. He won’t get away with bullying my Ma.”
Mr McDonnell (19) of Brookview Lawns in Tallaght has pleaded not guilty to murdering 16-year-old Melanie on February 8th 2012 at nearby Brookview Way. She was shot in the head as she sat in a car with her boyfriend and his friend.
Patrick Marrinan SC, defending, noted that the prosecutor had not ascribed a role to his client in the murder.
“It appears to me, the documents on which he’s relying place the gun in Mr McDonnell’s hands,” he said of his client’s letters.
However he noted the testimony of witness Seán Byrne, who was driving the car in which Melanie was sitting. He knew Mr McDonnell but told gardai he had never seen the gunman before.
Mr Marrinan also said there was no evidence of any turf war or anything that would give his client a reason to assassinate someone.
He asked the jury to look at the circumstances in which his client’s alleged confessions were made: the graffiti in his jail cell and the letters from prison.
“It’s been suggested to him he’ll be known as a gunman and go down in history,” he said, referring to statements made to him by investigating gardai.
He noted that he later denied involvement in the murder to the intended recipient of one of the letters, Stephanie Tuite.
He warned the jury of the dangers of relying on an uncorroborated confession, naming two cases where Irish men had confessed to murders they had not committed.
He said that in one case, the confessor was suspected of being attention-seeking or confused.
Brendan Grehan SC, prosecuting, noted that no finger-prints were found on the vehicle or gun used in the killing, but described Mr McDonnell’s letter writing as truly extraordinary.
“There is no other explanation for them other than admissions of guilt,” he said.
“You are entitled to convict him of murder,” he added.
Mr Justice Paul Carney told the jury of six men and six women that there was a total absence of corroboration in the case.
However, he said that they were still entitled to convict on the document being offered as a confession, if all 12 were satisfied that it was reliable.
The jurors deliberated for an hour and a half yesterday evening before going home for the night. They resume their deliberations tomorrow morning.