Friday 11 July 2014

Man found guilty of murdering ‘best friend’

Niamh O Donoghue

Published 23/01/2013|16:43

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A FATHER-OF-FOUR has been sentenced to life in prison for shooting a man in the back of his neck in his apartment because he refused to leave.

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Peter Donnelly (52) had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Edward Flanagan (49) at his Dublin flat on June 16, 2011.

He had also admitted possession of a Baikal 9mm automatic pistol and three rounds of .38 calibre ammunition at the same address on June 15, 2011 although he had denied these charges at the start of the trial.

The jury of seven men and three women returned with a 11/1 majority verdict of guilty of murder after five hours and 20 minutes of deliberation.

Mr Justice Paul Carney sentenced Donnelly to life imprisonment for the murder and five years on each of the other counts to run concurrently and he backdated it to June 16, 2011 for time spent in custody.

The court heard evidence that that Donnelly and the deceased were drinking cans in field behind Belcamp College in Coolock with two other men on the day of the incident.

They later went to Donnellys house to continue drinking and watched two films – ‘Snatch’ and ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’.

After the films had finished playing they listened to the radio and Mr Flanagan and Donnelly started dancing.

Gary McMahon, who was one of the other men in the apartment, said an argument started between Donnelly and Mr Flanagan.

He said Donnelly was running around slagging Mr Flanagan and he recalled him saying he would shoot him.

Mr McMahon said that Donnelly walked around the back of the couch, put a gun to Mr Flanagans head and was shouting in a rage in an English accent just before he shot him.

Gardai had to force open the door of the apartment and emergency services tried to revive Mr Flanagan but he was later pronounced dead.

The victim’s sister Marie Flanagan described it as a brutal murder and said she did not accept that Donnelly had no recollection of what happened.

The court heard both men were separated but had children and were keen cyclists who would go on bird-watching trips together.

But Ms Flanagan said Donnelly and her brother were drinking buddies, not best friends as the trial had heard and that he would never get into arguments.

She said it was cruel that his 12-year-old son would have to deal with the loss of his father and as a family they were finding it very hard to come to terms with.

“He was the most easy-going, laid-back person youd ever meet and you would never, ever get an argument out of him,” she said.

When Mr Flanagan was found he had no top on and he was holding a can of Dutch Gold lager beer.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jabbar said the gun was placed at Mr Flanagans neck and he described it as an almost hard contact.

The court heard Donnelly went to Coolock Garda Station voluntarily the next day and told them he discharged the gun.

It also heard from witnesses that he had changed his clothes and cleaned himself up in another man’s house after the incident.

Donnelly also lied to gardai saying Mr Flanagan had brought the gun to his apartment but later admitted that he had the gun himself.

Detective Garda Shay Woods told Ms Eileen O Leary SC prosecuting that Donnelly has 33 previous convictions including road traffic offences, larceny, intoxication and disorderly behaviour.

He said he was separated with four children and worked as a labourer on building sites.

When Mr Justice Carney asked him why the shooting happened as no motive had emerged during the course of the trial.

Det Gda Woods told the judge it appeared Donnelly wanted the people out of his apartment and that they were refusing to leave.

He said Mr Flanagan was enjoying the party and was sitting with a can in his hand and was not getting off his chair.

Mr Patrick Marinan SC defending said it was out of character for his client who was genuinely sorry.

He said it was a bizarre case in that he was his best friend and his client had always resisted being categorised as an executioner.

Mr Marinan said his client had been a model prisoner and an artist of outstanding talent turning his time in prison to good use.

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