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Saturday 23 September 2017

Jury told accused pair in Gerard McMahon murder trial acted as ‘unit’

The case is being heard at the Central Criminal Court.
The case is being heard at the Central Criminal Court.

Natasha Reid

The jury in the trial of two men accused of murder has been told it was immaterial which of them inflicted the fatal wounds because they were acting as a unit.

A prosecutor was giving his closing speech in the trial of two brothers and their uncle, who are charged in connection with the death of a man near their home.

Gerard McMahon was stabbed to death on January 18, 2012, as he arrived to visit his cousin on Lenihan Avenue, Prospect in Limerick City.

Seán Flanagan (28) and his uncle, Paul Colbert (46), of Lenihan Avenue have pleaded not guilty to murdering the 43-year-old.

Seán Flanagan’s brother, Ian Flanagan (24), of the same address, is accused of removing a CCTV recorder from their house, knowing it might form evidence in a prosecution. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of assisting an offender.

Michael O’Higgins SC, prosecuting, told the Central Criminal Court that Seán Flanagan and Paul Colbert had formed an intention to attack Gerard McMahon.

“This is a cohesive team, which leaves the house together, armed with knives and a hatchet,” he said. “These weapons are used individually.”

However he said it was the prosecution case that they were acting in concert.

“It is our case that it was a two-man unit, who quickly formed a plan and gave effect to it. The actions of one are the actions of the other,” he continued. “The real damage was caused by the knife and not the hatchet, but that’s immaterial as a matter of law.”

Lawyers for the three accused men also delivered their closing speeches today.

Anthony Sammon SC, defending Paul Colbert, noted that his client had admitted using the hatchet on the deceased man’s head. However he also noted that the State Pathologist found very little damage that she could attribute to the hatchet.

He asked the jury to contrast the CCTV footage of his client coming home ‘steamed’ with footage of the two Flanagans arriving to the house ‘crouching’ shortly before the killing.

“It’s palpable that decisions have been made to do things to Gerard McMahon,” he said.

He said that Seán Flanagan had an attitude towards the deceased, a jealousy that arose out of his relationship with an ex-girlfriend.

“This has clearly got to a level of hatred,” he said. “Gerard McMahon has been spotted and he’s going to be got. Paul Colbert is going to be wound up and told Gerard McMahon is coming.”

He explained that provocation was a partial defence to murder, bringing it down to a level of manslaughter.

John Phelan SC, defending Seán Flanagan, said that the deceased man’s blood being found on his client’s clothes proved only that he was reasonably close to Mr McMahon when his blood spilled.

“I suggest my client went down (to the scene) due to his uncle’s drunkenness, went down to prevent any harm being done,” he said. “Now it sounds farfetched, but is it possible that Seán Flanagan went down to try to make sense out of nonsense?”

Brendan Nix SC, defending Ian Flanagan, said he asked himself how his client had got into this.

He said the answer stared up at him from the memos of his interviews with gardai.

“I was panicking. Everybody was panicking. That’s how I got drawn into it,” he said.

He asked the jurors if they had ever been so panicked.

“When one is panicked, one does not focus the specific intent to behave rationally or lawfully,” he said.

“Well in his panic, which overwhelmed him, do you think this young man formed the necessary legal intent to do this?” he asked.

“If what I have said strikes a chord with you, join with me and deliver my client from his nightmare,” he said.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan has now begun charging the jury of eight women and four men, who will begin their deliberations tomorrow.

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