Thursday 27 October 2016

Man out of prison on Christmas leave in fatal fight with ex's partner, court told

Eoin Reynolds

Published 01/12/2015 | 18:15

James Connors (29)
James Connors (29)

A man who was allowed out of prison on Christmas leave became embroiled in a fatal fight with his ex-girlfriend's partner, the Central Criminal Court heard today.

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James Connors (29), of Rosemount, Drinagh, Co Wexford, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 27-year-old James Ryan at Hollyville Heights in Wexford Town on January 25, 2012.

Defence counsel Michael Delaney SC told the jury that the defence and prosecution in the case had agreed to submit evidence of Mr Connors's imprisonment at Wheatfield Prison in 2011. He told the jury that Mr Connors had been given temporary leave from Wheatfield Prison for Christmas 2011 and had been due to return to prison on December 28 but failed to do so.

The jury heard evidence from 29-year-old Samantha Hore. Speaking to prosecution counsel Gerard Clarke SC Ms Hore said that she had dated Mr Connors on and off for ten years but they broke up for good in 2010.

After that she started going out with James Ryan and they lived together for about one year leading up to his death in January 2012.

Ms Hore said that she had received numerous phone calls from Mr Connors after they broke up and that he had told her: "If I ever moved on he would not be happy and he was going to get whoever it was."

She said that on the day of January 24 Mr Ryan had been drinking with friends at their apartment before going out. He returned at about mid-night and took off his runners.

The doorbell rang about 15 minutes later and she asked Mr Ryan to get it. She looked out a window of their first floor apartment and saw that it was James Connors. She heard the two men having a row but said she could not hear what was being said.

Mr Ryan came back into the apartment, she said, put his runners back on and then left. A few minutes later he returned to the apartment with stab wounds to his chest. She said he could not speak or see.

Ms Hore also gave evidence that she had previously seen James Connors about three weeks before Jason died. She said that on that occasion the two had started fighting and that Mr Connors stabbed Mr Ryan twice, but that the injuries were not serious enough for him to go to hospital.

Under cross examination by defence counsel Michael Delaney SC Ms Hore agreed that she had failed to mention that when Mr Ryan left the apartment on the night of his death he was carrying a baton with metal studs in it and that he ran after Mr Connors. She said he had it for protection but she did not know why he needed protection.

She also agreed that when she spoke to gardai two hours after the incident she told them that she heard Mr Ryan say to Mr Connors: "Go away you red bastard," while the two of them were arguing at the front door.

Mr Delaney put it to Ms Hore that she was out for "revenge" for her boyfriend's death and had deliberately omitted those details. He also put it to her that she had concocted the story about the stabbing three weeks prior to the incident that led to Mr Ryan's death.

He said: "You are exaggerating the account of what you saw to prejudice Mr Connors." He said that there may have been a fight between the two men but that the injuries Mr Ryan suffered were so insignificant that they subsequently went to a sweet shop to buy sweets rather than go to hospital or contact gardai.  She denied making up the story, saying "why would I lie about that?"

The court also heard evidence from neighbours living in Hollyville Heights who said they saw a man hiding in the bushes outside Ms Hore's and Mr Ryan's apartment in the minutes leading up to the argument between Mr Connors and Mr Ryan.

The trial continues tomorrow before Justice Margaret Heneghan.

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