Wednesday 20 September 2017

Murder accused beat former rugby captain until he admitted sexual assault, court hears

Gardai at the scene in Terenure, Dublin; Inset: Cathal Sweeney in his rugby days
Gardai at the scene in Terenure, Dublin; Inset: Cathal Sweeney in his rugby days

Natasha Reid

A Dublin man, charged with murdering a 62-year-old former rugby captain, told gardai that he punched the deceased until he admitted sexually assaulting another man, his trial has heard.

The father-of one said they had been getting on well until then, watching a rugby match in a friend’s flat in Dublin.

The evidence was heard today in the Central Criminal Court trial of 34-year-old Gary Walsh, who is charged with murdering Cathal Sweeney in Ashdale Gardens, Terenure.

Mr Walsh, with an address at The Watercourse, Orwell Park in Templeogue has pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter on February 8, 2014.

Mr Sweeney died of blunt force trauma to the head and face.

Sgt Joseph Molloy gave evidence of a number of interviews conducted with Gary Walsh following his arrest.

The court had already heard that both accused and deceased had been watching a rugby match between Ireland and Wales in the flat of a friend, Colm Campbell.

He told gardai that all three were drinking and that an argument started between him and Mr Sweeney.

"I struck him a few times," said Mr Walsh. "He had blood on his face. I told him to go into the bathroom and clean himself.”

He said he followed him in and found him slumped over.

“I called the ambulance,” he said. “I had no intention for this to happen."

The gardai asked him about his reason for assaulting him in the first place. He said that Mr Campbell had told him that Mr Sweeney had sexually assaulted a man, but that the deceased had denied it

“He kept denying it and it just kicked off,” he said. “Cathal said he didn’t do it so I hit him a few times.”

He was asked how many times he had hit him.

“A good six or seven times in the face,” he replied.

“You punched him until he said he did it?” he was asked.

“Yeah, until he said he did it. We were getting on well until then,” he said. “It wasn’t even that long. I did everything I could to make him alright. He walked from the couch.”

Colm Campbell told gardai that he had heard Mr Walsh demand €20,000 from Mr Sweeney, who had recently received an inheritance.

“Money had nothing to do with it,” he replied, when this was put to him. “I wasn’t looking for money.”

He said that Mr Campbell sometimes said things that he didn’t mean or were not true, and that he (the accused) didn’t know if what he was saying about the alleged sexual assault was true either.

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty has told the jury of six women and six men that the evidence in the case has finished. The jury will hear closing statements, when the trial continues on Tuesday.

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