Wednesday 20 September 2017

Murder accused punches prosecuting barrister in the face during closing stages of trial

Vesel Jahiri, left, and Anna Finnegan, right. Photo: Collins
Vesel Jahiri, left, and Anna Finnegan, right. Photo: Collins

Alison O'Riordan

There were chaotic scenes in the Central Criminal Court today after a man accused of murdering his former partner and mother of their two children punched the prosecuting barrister in the face.

The accused then leapt across the benches before he was wrestled to the ground by five prison officers who handcuffed him and removed him from the courtroom.

Vesel Jahiri (35), originally from Kosovo but of no fixed abode, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Anna Finnegan (25) at Allendale Glen, Clonsilla, Dublin 15 on September 21, 2012.

He has also pleaded not guilty to assaulting Karl Finnegan, causing him harm, at the same place on the same date.

Mr Jahiri previously dismissed his legal team and is now representing himself at the trial.

This morning, Mr Justice Paul Coffey told the jury that Mr Jahiri was not in a position to call any further witnesses in his trial.

The judge then said that Mr Jahiri would not be making a closing speech although he was given an opportunity to do so and for that reason prosecuting counsel, Mr Patrick Marrinan SC, would also not be making a closing speech.

At that point Mr Jahiri shouted: “The judge is refusing to call witnesses. This trial is not going ahead. You broke the law. This trial is going nowhere I’m stopping it now.”

The judge then told Mr Jahiri that he had given him an opportunity to call witnesses this morning. Mr Jahiri said he needed a phone to call potential witnesses saying: “I’m in Guantanamo jail.”

The accused was told by the judge that he has had the last seven weeks to telephone witnesses. Mr Jahiri started to shout: “My teeth are sick and everything.”

Mr Marrinan then stood up and was about to speak when Mr Jahiri, who has been permitted to sit in counsel's bench since he sacked his legal team, reached across to him and punched him in the face. Blood could be seen coming from counsel’s nose.

The accused then leapt across the benches before he was wrestled to the ground by five prison officers who handcuffed him and removed him from the courtroom.

The trial was adjourned for twenty minutes before resuming in front of the jury. Mr Justice Coffey addressed the jury saying: "The accused has been removed from court and we will proceed in his absence."

Mr Justice Coffey then began charging the jury and spent much of the afternoon summarising the evidence in the trial.

In relation to the murder charge the judge told the jury that there were three verdicts open to them, namely; guilty of murder, not guilty of murder or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. He said the burden of proof always rests on the prosecution and that for a guilty verdict to be returned the case must be proven beyond all reasonable doubt.

If the jury believed Mr Jahiri's defence, that he did not stab Anna Finnegan, was true or could reasonably be true they must find him not guilty of murder. 

If it is proven that Mr Jahiri stabbed Anna Finnegan they must then consider his intention. Mr Justice Coffey explained that for a murder verdict, the prosecution must prove that

Mr Jahiri intended to kill or cause serious injury.

In considering Mr Jahiri's intention, Mr Justice Coffey said they should have regard to the fact that Anna suffered only one wound and that the Deputy State Pathologist said the injury could have been caused by "moderate force".

They should also consider evidence from other witnesses who said they heard Mr Jahiri threaten to kill Anna earlier on the day and that he kicked in the door of her home before the incident that led to her death.

In relation to the charge of assault causing harm to Karl Finnegan, Mr Justice Coffey said the jury must consider if Mr Jahiri believed he was acting in self-defence. If he was acting in self-defence and used no more force than was necessary, they should find him not guilty.

If the prosecution has proven that he intended to cause harm and was not acting in self-defence they should find him guilty.

Mr Justice Coffey will conclude his charge to the jury of eight men and two women on Monday.

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