Tuesday 27 June 2017

Man told gardaí he 'snapped' and stuck knife into girlfriend a number of times, trial hears

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

Ruaidhrí Giblin

A Cork man told gardaí he "snapped", grabbed a knife from the side of a bed and stuck it into his then girlfriend a number of times, a murder trial jury has heard.

Darren Murphy (40), of Dan Desmond Villas, Passage West, Co Cork has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Olivia Dunlea (36) at Pembroke Crescent, Passage West, Co Cork on February 17 2013 but has admitted killing her.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has not accepted Mr Murphy's plea of guilty to manslaughter.

Outlining the prosecution's case to a jury at the Central Criminal Court today, senior counsel Thomas Creed, for the DPP, said Darren Murphy was Olivia Dunlea's boyfriend at the time of the offence.

Mr Creed told the jury that on Saturday, February 16, 2013, Ms Dunlea and Mr Murphy went to the Rochestown Inn public house in Cork where they met some friends and had a few drinks.

According to the friends they met there, Ms Dunlea and Mr Murphy were in good spirits when they, their friends, left, Mr Creed said.

Around midnight, Ms Dunlea and Mr Murphy were driven by a cab driver to Ms Dunlea's home. The taxi driver was aware they had drink taken, Mr Creed said. They were drunk but not falling around the place.

The taxi driver noticed some tension between them but nothing unusual, Mr Creed said, and Ms Dunlea was “certainly” in good spirits when she left the car.

Around 1am, Mr Creed said, a neighbour of Ms Dunlea was in his upstairs bedroom when he noticed a fire in Olivia's home. He told his sister who called the fire brigade.

Around that time, a friend of Ms Dunlea rang Mr Murphy. He told her they had had a fight and he left Olivia at her front door. He didn't explain what the fight was about but said “Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus” and gave the impression that he was shocked, Mr Creed said.

Ms Dunlea's friend drove with her husband to Olivia's house where Mr Murphy pulled up in front of their car. She saw Mr Murphy run to the front door but he was told to get back, Mr Creed said.

When asked again where was Olivia, Mr Murphy said they had had a fight about two persons called "Fas and Frick" and that he had left Ms Dunlea at her front door.

Some years previously, Mr Creed said, Ms Dunlea had some form of a relationship with one of the men called "Fas and Frick".

Mr Creed told the jury they will hear from a number of firefighters who went into the house. One felt the outline of a body in an upstairs room.

The same fireman noticed there was a small fire on the kitchen table and the main fire, in the upstairs bedroom, had spread to the hallway and attic.

When Mr Murphy was told by gardaí at the scene that a body had been found inside the house, Mr Murphy shouted repeatedly at them: “They told me there was no one in the house” and he began to cry, Mr Creed said.

He made a voluntary witness statement and was brought home.

Ms Dunlea was identified with dental records, Mr Creed said.

The State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy identified six stab wounds on Ms Dunlea's body.

According to Prof Cassidy's examination, Mr Creed said Ms Dunlea had inhaled some of the toxic fumes which indicated that she wasn't dead when the fire was lit.

Dr Cassidy concluded that Ms Dunlea was still alive when the fire was started and either the stab wound to the neck or the inhaling of toxic fumes caused her death.

Despite the fact Ms Dunlea was still alive, she did not attempt to escape the fire and may well have been incapacitated, Mr Creed said.

At home that morning, Mr Murphy handed two sets of clothing to a Garda Harrington. Mr Murphy explained that he had been wearing the second set of clothing when he was in the Rochestown Inn with Ms Dunlea and this matched the clothing he had described in his statement.

Mr Creed said that when Garda Harrington looked at the CCTV from the Rochestown Inn, he found that the clothing Mr Murphy was wearing was “not as he described in his statement” and not what he had given to Garda Harrington the night before. “They were different” clothes, counsel said.

When Mr Murphy was confronted about the discrepancies in the clothing, Mr Creed said Mr Murphy told the gardaí he had made a mistake.

When he was asked to hand over the clothing, he became “very emotional” and said he and Ms Dunlea had had a massive row, Mr Creed said.

Mr Murphy was cautioned and one of the things he told gardaí, Mr Creed said, was: “I just snapped”.

Mr Creed said he had hidden the clothing he was wearing “when he killed Ms Dunlea” under decking and later moved them to his attic.

He was arrested on suspicion of murder and taken to Togher Garda station, Mr Creed said.

Counsel said Mr Murphy told gardaí that he had "snapped", had grabbed the knife from the side of the bed and stuck it into Ms Dunlea a number of times.

Mr Creed said the accused had admitted the manslaughter of Ms Dunlea, but was “innocent of the charge of murder until you are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to kill or cause serious injury to Ms Dunlea.”

The trial resumes tomorrow before a jury of 12 with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy presiding.

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