Victim's spine, heart and lungs crushed by car, court told
Published 26/02/2010 | 05:00
THE jury in a murder trial has heard that the victim died after a car struck him with such force that his spine broke, crushing part of his heart and tearing one of his lungs free.
State pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy told Dublin's Central Criminal Court that Michael Duffy (66), would have died quickly after he sustained a major crush injury to the chest that caused "massive internal trauma".
Prof Cassidy said the most logical explanation for his injuries was that he was struck by a vehicle while he was standing and then fell to the ground, where his chest was crushed between a car bumper and wall.
Claire Nolan (23), of Sheephill Green in Blanchardstown, Dublin, denies murdering Mr Duffy in the driveway of his son's house in Well View Grove, Blanchardstown, in January 2008.
She admits to Mr Duffy's manslaughter, but the prosecution refuses to accept her plea and is arguing that she murdered Mr Duffy by driving her car at him and crushing him to death.
The court has already heard that Ms Nolan was "in a rage" on the night in question because the deceased's son, Francis Duffy (42), was allegedly seen trying to break into her new Nissan Micra.
An eye-witness described Ms Nolan as being "off her head" after spending the day taking cocaine and sleeping tablets, and drinking wine.
A row broke out between Ms Nolan, her friends and Francis Duffy, who rang his father, Michael Duffy.
Michael Duffy had been spending the day with friends in Cavan, but drove to his son's house.
Shortly after he arrived on the scene, the Ms Nolan's car was seen been driven through the gates of the house of Francis Duffy.
Michael Duffy was struck by the car and pronounced dead a short time later in James Connolly Memorial Hospital.
Prof Cassidy described how Mr Duffy's injuries were "not survivable" and said it was possible he had sustained the full force of the car.
She said he would have been knocked unconscious almost immediately, and would have died quickly.
Mr Duffy's relatives became upset as she described his extensive internal injuries. Ms Nolan kept her head bowed throughout the evidence.
The court heard that, in addition to his spine breaking, several of Mr Duffy's ribs had been fractured, puncturing the lungs and causing them to fill with blood.
His breast-bone was broken and part of his liver was crushed.
There was a crush injury to part of the heart, as well as tears to the heart wall; while its main vessel, the aorta, had also been torn free.
Prof Cassidy said that Mr Duffy would have lost a significant amount of blood.
Under cross-examination by defence counsel Brendan Grehan, Prof Cassidy said she could not make a comment on the speed that the car was travelling at the time but said Mr Duffy's injuries were likely to have been caused by the weight, and not the speed, of the car.
The court also heard evidence from Detective Garda John Reynolds, a forensic expert, who examined tyre marks at the scene.
He agreed with Mr Grehan that there was "nothing to suggest a car accelerating towards the house or a place between the front window and door of the house".
He said he did find marks to suggest a car reversing at speed away from the house.
The court also heard that specks of red paint found on Michael Duffy's jumper matched the paint on Ms Nolan's Nissan Micra.
The trial continues today before Mr Justice Barry White.