Saturday 10 December 2016

Prisoner guilty of murder after row over TV

Alison O'Riordan

Published 27/10/2016 | 02:30

Brian Veale stabbed a fellow inmate through the heart. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts
Brian Veale stabbed a fellow inmate through the heart. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts

A Waterford man has been found guilty of murdering a fellow Cork Prison inmate following an argument over switching television channels.

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During the trial, the court heard evidence that Brian Veale (31) stabbed Graham Johnson (41) through the heart with a carving knife and smiled as he told a witness: "If I get a life sentence, it doesn't matter."

Veale's defence lawyers told the jury that "fear" was "at the heart of this case" and that the prosecution had failed to prove self-defence was not an issue.

However, a jury of seven men and five women found Veale guilty by a unanimous verdict of murdering Mr Johnson. They had deliberated for one hour and 56 minutes.

Veale, with a last address at Dominic Street, Cork, and originally from Dungarvan, Co Waterford, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Johnson at the prison in Cork city on May 16, 2015.

The trial heard evidence from witness Ming Feng Chen, who was an inmate in the prison at the time of the incident. He told the court that he was working in the kitchen with Veale when Mr Feng Chen went over to watch horse racing on the television.

Mr Feng Chen told the court that Veale "approached" Mr Johnson and "stabbed him with a knife in the heart area".

The witness added: "He [Brian Veale] then smiled at me, called my name and said 'If I get a life sentence, it doesn't matter'."

Mr Feng Chen said Mr Johnson held his chest after he was stabbed and "slowly fell" to the ground.

Prison officer Brian Forde told the court that he was supervising the inmates in the kitchen when he heard a "heated argument" between the accused and the deceased as to what channel to watch on television.

"My memory is that Brian Veale was looking to watch the sports channel and Graham Johnson was looking to watch horse racing," said Mr Forde.

"I instructed them to stop arguing, which they did after a short time. Mr Veale left the area and Mr Johnson continued to watch the television."

Distress

The witness told the court that "again" at 5.50pm he heard an altercation and raised voices coming from near the TV.

"I got up to investigate and when I came around the corner I observed Mr Johnson holding his chest at the back of the kitchen. He was obviously in distress," Mr Forde said.

Chief State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy, who carried out a post-mortem examination on Mr Johnson's body, told the jury that his death was due to a single stab wound to the front of his chest and haemorrhages to the heart and aorta.

The blade of the knife had "perforated the heart" as well as "slicing" through the walls of the heart and aorta, Dr Cassidy added.

Counsel for the State Tim O'Leary SC read evidence from Dr Edward Connolly, a forensic scientist at Forensic Science Ireland.

Mr Connolly reported that DNA profiles obtained from blood-staining on Veale's T-shirt, trousers and footwear matched Mr Johnson's DNA profile.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy yesterday thanked the jury for their time and exempted them from jury service for 15 years.

The court adjourned sentencing until November 7. Ms Justice Kennedy remanded Veale in custody until that date.

Irish Independent

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