Monday 25 September 2017

Parents of man (21) stabbed to death at house party demand - 'Give us our day in court'

EXCLUSIVE: Man claimed he was defending Kilkenny home when he stabbed Kieran Monahan

James and Mary Monahan and inset Kieran Monahan
James and Mary Monahan and inset Kieran Monahan
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

The parents of young a man stabbed to death at a Valentine’s Day party say they are furious with the state for refusing to bring charges against their son's killer.

Kieran Monahan (21) died from knife injuries following the attack at a house in Kilkenny City in 2012.

A 35-year-old man was arrested at the scene after he was discovered clutching a bloody knife. However a decision was made not to prosecute after the suspect claimed he was defending his home under the Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act 2011.

The act came into operation in January 2012, just one month before the stabbing.

It is the only publicised case where this defence has been used in an incident involving a fatal injury.

Now Kieran's family have spoken out for the first time to demand a total review of the investigation and decision not to proceed with a trial.

Sitting down with Independent.ie, Mary Monahan explained that there are “many unanswered questions” that remain about her son’s death.

“He didn’t deserve to die the way he did, I’d like to see something done about it,”she said.

Kieran Monahan
Kieran Monahan

“We don’t know the full circumstances, because we have been told too many stories by so many different people.”

Mary explained that fishing fanatic Kieran left the family home in Durrow, Co Laois on Valentine’s Day 2012 and went drinking with friends in Abbeyleix.

There were four other men with Kieran in total that day but just one of them, Shane Lalor, responded to requests to be interviewed for this piece.

He told Independent.ie that after a few hours of drinking one of the men suggested they travel to Kilkenny City.

Kieran’s father James agreed to collect them and drop them into a house. Some time later the five friends took a taxi to an apartment in the Larchfield Court area of the city.

Shane explained that this was at around 9pm and once there he began to feel uncomfortable.

The man who would eventually stab Kieran to death, was at the house with another man. This second man also did not respond to requests to be interviewed for this piece.

Shane, said that he and two others left to buy more drink, leaving Kieran behind in the home. Shane decided not to return to the property, instead opting to take a taxi home.

He said this was anytime between 10pm and 11pm.

Around two hours later Kieran was discovered outside the apartment complex with a single knife wound to his chest.

In the moments before the stabbing someone rang 999 and gardaí have a recording of this emergency call.

James and Mary Monahan
James and Mary Monahan

When officers arrived at the scene they found a man holding a bloody carving knife, seemingly grabbed from the kitchen.

Another man Dale Fogarty also suffered knife injuries.

Kieran was rushed to St Luke’s Hospital in the city where he was pronounced dead.

The suspect was arrested but this would be the only time he spent in custody for the incident.

Mary Monahan breaks down as she describes the moment she learned about her son’s death.

“Myself and my husband were in bed. I had just finished looking at a film when we heard a car pull up outside. James said: ‘That must be Kieran’.

“I went down to answer the door and two gardaí were standing there. When they called me Mrs Monahan I knew something was wrong. I said to them: ‘It’s Kieran, isn’t it?’

“They replied ‘yes’ and at that moment our whole lives changed. Our hearts will always be broken without our son.”

The family met with a number of men who were with Kieran on the night in the days after his death and around the time of his funeral.

However parents James and Mary explained that they became increasingly frustrated with the different versions of events they were hearing.

Mary said: “We were told in the beginning that Kieran was stabbed out through a window. Then we were told that Kieran was stabbed on the stairs which has not been elaborated on as to which stairs were being spoken about. There were stairs inside the house and outside.

“We don’t honestly know what happened that night as we have been told so many stories by different people who were there.”

Some reports have suggested that a row broke out at the flat and Kieran left before returning some time later and attempting to get into the home.

However, none of these reports have been confirmed.

A week after the incident two more men were arrested and questioned by gardaí.

Kieran’s family learned around a year after the death that the suspect would use the Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act 2011 as a defence. This act, introduced in the wake of the fatal shooting of burglar John Ward by farmer Padraig Nally in 2004, allows householders to use reasonable force to protect themselves in their homes.

Cahir O'Higgins, a solicitor specialising in criminal law, said that under the terms of the 2011 act the onus would be on the prosecution to disprove a homeowner's claim of acting in self-defence.

“Under the law a person has a right to use reasonable force against a person who breaks into their house in order to prevent the commission of a further crime,” Mr O’Higgins explained.

“The reference to the circumstances ‘as he or she believes them to be’ prevents the resident from being criminalised on the basis that they misconstrued the position.”

A spokesperson for the Director of Public Prosecutions said the office “does not collate statistics in relation to the Criminal Law (Defence of the Dwelling) Act 2011”.

As such, it is unclear if any other suspects in other cases have opted to use this defence successfully.

The family said they were left heartbroken and angry by the decision not to prosecute.

Mary explained: “We do not believe that this was the right decision. My son Kieran had his faults but did not deserve to die like he did. My son was a human being and the laws of this country are out of touch with the reality of each situation.

“I do not believe my son deserved to die.”

Asked if she feels the DPP came to its decision too fast, Mary said: “Yes we do as this was the first case of the new law at the time. We have not heard of any cases of this kind since.”

The family say they did get a ray of hope in 2014 when an anonymous person contacted this reporter on Facebook with fresh information about the investigation.

Gardaí did examine the contents of the mails and contacted Facebook in Canada for further information.

Neither the family, nor this reporter, have heard anything further officially on this.

Today the family have demanded that all of those who were with Kieran on the night give full statements to gardaí.

They have also called for gardaí to reopen the investigation into Kieran’s death. They are considering lodging a complaints with the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) for alleged failures in the investigation.

Mary said: “Since Kieran died our hearts are broken. It should not be a parent who buries their child.

“It is not right. Kieran has missed so much. He has two nieces now and a nephew who he will never see grow up and he has two grandmothers who miss him.

“All of our hearts are broken with no justice or closure for four years and ten months.”

Asked what she wants now, Mary responded: “I would like to see the person that stabbed my son to death prosecuted in some form. Give us our day in court with him.”

A garda spokesman said: “The death of Kieran Monahan was fully investigated and a file sent to the DPP who directed no prosecution in the case.”

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