Murderer on bail at time of vicious killing jailed for life
Published 10/12/2010 | 05:00
A MAN was on bail when he beat a brain-injured young man to death, inflicting over 100 separate injuries.
The revelation came as John Walsh (45) was yesterday handed a life sentence for the murder of John McManus (25) whose battered body was found dumped in a Kerry ditch two years ago.
Walsh -- who has addresses in Ballinlough, Cork and Mitchelstown, Co Cork -- will begin his life sentence for the murder only when he completes an eight-year prison term for drug offences.
The defendant has 12 previous convictions -- including one for assault causing harm where he repeatedly 'pricked' a woman in the face and back with a knife during a house party.
When he killed Mr McManus, Walsh was on High Court bail facing a charge of being in possession, for sale or supply, of drugs worth more than €13,000.
Walsh received a 10-year prison sentence for the drugs offence on February 20, 2009, which was later reduced by the Court of Criminal Appeal to eight years.
Mr Justice Paul Carney, on the application of the prosecution, directed that Walsh's mandatory life sentence for murder commence when the drugs sentence was completed. That is likely to be 2015.
Walsh kept his head bowed through the 45-minute hearing yesterday as Mr McManus's family told the Central Criminal Court of their devastation at the brutal manner of his death. Walsh was unanimously convicted of the murder following an eight-week trial.
The trial heard that the young man had suffered a serious brain injury in a traffic accident on Halloween 1996. His sister, Mary, revealed that Mr McManus almost died in the ambulance on his way to hospital.
"Against the odds, he pulled through and because of this we cherished him all the more in our lives -- we had a second chance," she said.
Mr McManus was made a ward of court, received a €600,000 damages award and was given two small weekly payments. However, he was only capable of semi-independent living -- and had developed a drug problem.
Walsh insisted he did not intend to kill Mr McManus -- but had only acted in self-defence.
However, the McManus family told the trial that Mr McManus had been desperate for money in the last days of his life, explaining that he owed money to people.
After being battered to death, Mr McManus's bloodsoaked body was left for over a day by a bed in his flat -- before Walsh put the body in the boot of his car where it remained for four days. He then drove to Ballyduff in Co Kerry where he dumped the body in a ditch by a bog.
The State contended that Walsh murdered Mr McManus at a date unknown between October 29 and November 7, 2008, at Flat 1, No 3 Verdon Place, Wellington Road, Co Cork.
The trial -- which opened on October 19 -- heard that blood spatters were found all over Mr McManus's flat. Gardai called to the flat after the young man's family had become increasingly concerned about his safety and had been unable to contact him.
Walsh was then spotted by a garda in a car parked near Ballyduff, Co Kerry -- close to the spot where Mr McManus's body was later found.
Kerry gardai initially suspected an incident of illegal dumping but, after entering Walsh's details on their PULSE computer system, discovered that Cork gardai were seeking Walsh in connection with the disappearance of Mr McManus.
A detailed search of the area where Walsh was spotted eventually located the young man's body.
The garda who first spotted the battered remains initially believed they were just a bag of old clothes.
Three of Mr McManus's teeth were later recovered from the hallway of his Cork flat.
A post-mortem revealed that he died from blunt-force trauma caused by a severe beating. He suffered cuts, bruises and abrasions to his head and body while superficial stab wounds were also found on his head.
The State argued that Mr McManus was subjected to a serious assault over an extended period which took place in the hallway, kitchen and bedroom of his flat. Blood spatters were found in all three rooms.Palm and fingerprints found in blood in the Cork flat matched those of Walsh.