Tuesday 25 July 2017

Man given 14-year sentence for Dublin manslaughter

Niamh O'Donoghue

A homeless Dubliner, who stabbed a 23-year-old to death has been given a 14-year sentence at the Central Criminal Court.

John Murdoch was stabbed in the heart at Cushlawn Way - Cushlawn Dale in Tallaght, after a recovering heroin addict produced a knife during a dispute.

Thomas Kinsella (34) of Orchid House on Jamess Street in the capital had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Murdoch on August 27, 2011.

But he was found guilty of manslaughter by reason of self-defence by a unanimous verdict of a jury last December.

Today Mr Justice Barry White said a substantial sentence was warranted and he was satisfied with the view of the Director of Public Prosecutions that it was at the upper end of the scale for manslaughter.

He gave Kinsella a 14-year sentence and suspended the final five years backdating it to January 1, 2012.

The use of knives to resolve conflicts is only too common in our jurisdictions, said Mr Justice White.

The judge noted he had a criminal record, a drug problem and a substantial risk of reoffending.


Detective Garda John Stack told Mr Damien Colgan SC prosecuting Kinsella stabbed the deceased three times in the chest, abdomen and forearm.

Gardai and the ambulance were called and Mr Murdoch was transferred to Tallaght Hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later.

The court heard that the incident began with Mr Murdoch and his two male friends calling Mr Kinsellas group junkies and scumbags as they walked past them.

Kinsella said he was defending himself when he stabbed the deceased and that a group that included Mr Murdoch threw bricks and bottles at him and his two friends, a man and woman. Kinsella concealed the knife but later told gardai where he had left it.

Mr Kieran Kelly BL defending said Kinsella wanted to offer his sincere apologies to the family saying he had replayed that night over and over and that it was the biggest mistake of his life.

Kinsella, who has 22 previous convictions, was homeless, living in hostels and had started using heroin at the age of 16.

The court also heard Kinsellas ex-partner who had a stillborn child in 2003 was found dead under a bridge by the canal in 2010.

It also heard that his partner at the time of the offence was giving birth and that he went to the hospital to see her instead of going to gardai.

A probation report before the court stated that Kinsella was at moderate to high risk of reoffending.

Victim Impact

On the day of the verdict Mr Murdochs heavily pregnant sister, Amanda Murdoch, delivered an emotional victim impact statement from the witness box.

To have John taken away from us so tragically took a bit of our close-knit family away, she said through tears.

Members of the Murdoch family became upset and some had to leave as she spoke about the pain they had all gone through since his death.

She said that her brother, the second youngest of a large family, was a lovable, caring brother and friend. She said he was a very popular young man, who had his whole life ahead of him.

My best memory of him was his laugh, his smile and the love he had for all of us, she said.

It was very hard to say goodbye to him, she continued, saying that it was heart-breaking to watch her parents say goodbye to their son.

She said that he would never know her first-born child, who was due in the New Year, and that he or she would never know him.

He loved his nieces and nephews so much, she explained.

She said that weeks before he died, he had spoken of his wish to settle down and have a family of his own, something he would now never do.

She described the night her brother died as the worst night of her life.

I knew our lives would never be the same, she said, adding that her family and family occasions would also never be the same.

Our family chain is broken but we know hell always be with us, she concluded.

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