Thursday 19 October 2017

Jury fail to decide verdict in case of man accused of killing his girlfriend

Olivia Dunlea O'Brien from Passage West, Co Cork
Olivia Dunlea O'Brien from Passage West, Co Cork

Eoin Reynolds

The jury in the trial of a man who admitted killing his girlfriend is unable to decide whether he is guilty of murder or manslaughter.

After seven hours and thirteen minutes of deliberations, the five women and seven men said they could not overcome their disagreement.

Darren Murphy (40), of Dan Desmond Villas in Passage West, Co Cork, pleaded not guilty to murdering Olivia Dunlea at her home in Pembroke Crescent on February 17, 2013. He pleaded guilty to her manslaughter but his plea was rejected and he has been on trial at the Central Criminal Court for the past two-and-a-half weeks.

Justice Patrick McCarthy thanked the jury for their service and remanded Mr Murphy until June 26 when a date for a new trial may be set.

During the trial, the jury heard that Mr Murphy and Ms Dunlea had been in a relationship for about four months. In interviews with gardai Mr Murphy revealed that he stabbed her during an argument. He told gardai that he "lost it" and "snapped" after she told him to get out of her house because another man was calling over.

He stabbed her in the neck six times, the fatal wound penetrating her spinal canal, set fire to her house, and left.

The jury was asked to consider whether he was provoked by Ms Dunlea to the point where he lost all self control. Justice McCarthy explained that if he was provoked, the appropriate verdict would be one of manslaughter.

This is the second time Mr Murphy has gone on trial for Ms Dunlea's death. He was convicted of her murder in 2014 and sentenced to life imprisonment but that verdict was quashed on appeal. The successful appeal was made on the grounds that the trial judge had erred in his explanation of the definition of provocation to the jury.

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