Saturday 17 March 2018

Attempt made to burn armchair in which man was found beaten to death

Alison O'Riordan

A garda witness has told a murder trial jury that an attempt may have been made to set a fire at the armchair in which a 64-year-old Offaly man was found dead.

The Central Criminal Court heard previously that the deceased Thomas ‘Toddy’ Dooley (64) was found in the living room of his home in Edenderry on February 16, 2014. He had died from injuries to his upper body and head.

Matthew Cummins (22) of Churchview Heights, Edenderry, Co Offaly, Sean Davy (21) of Clonmullen Drive, Edenderry, Co Offaly and James Davy(25) of Thornhill Meadows, Celbridge, Co Kildare are charged with murdering Thomas Dooley (64) at Sister Senan Court in Edenderry, Co Offaly on February 12, 2014.

The three men have pleaded not guilty to the charge.

On Wednesday Counsel for the State, Mr Patrick Treacy SC called Detective Garda Seamus O'Donnell, from the Ballistics Section of the Garda Technical Bureau, to give evidence.

Det Gda O'Donnell told the court he went to the scene at Sister Senan Court on February 17, 2014 to carry out a technical examination.

The jury heard he found the body of the deceased, which was covered with a cushion, in a sitting position in an armchair.

The armchair was burned in three locations and there were seven footwear marks on the floor in this area.

Mr Dooley had a "severe head injury" and a number of other injuries. A search of the scene was carried out but no implement was found.

On the afternoon of February 17, the deceased's body was brought to Tullamore Hospital for a postmortem examination.

The court heard "four small fragments of wood" were found on the deceased's head and "a small wood splinter" was taken from the deceased's jumper.

The bottom left leg of Mr Dooley's nylon tracksuit bottoms were burnt and the right leg was "badly burned."

"From the fire damage it is my opinion that somebody potentially lit a fire at the armchair. It wasn’t very successful, it was a small fire," said Det Gda O'Donnell.

The prosecution then called John O’Donnell, who was working as a barman in Mangan's pub in Edenderry on February 11, 2014, to give evidence.

Mr O’Donnell told the court that Sean Davy and James Davy were having a drink in the pub that evening and April Murray joined them later in the night.

The witness told the jury that before James Davy left the pub to go to a party in Ms Murray's house, a baseball bat slipped out from under the jacket he was carrying.

"It didn’t hit the floor as he caught it before then. He wrapped the bat into the jacket again. I said what the fuck are you doing with that. He didn't answer and left the pub," said Mr O'Donnell.

The prosecution then called Arvis Busmins who was working a late shift in a petrol station in Edenderry on February 11, to give evidence.

The court heard that at 5am on the morning of February 12 he saw two males standing at the hatch of the petrol station and a third male was on a phone.

One of the males at the hatch had a brown wooden baseball bat in his hand.

They purchased a soft drink and the man with the baseball bat proceeded to shake Mr Busmins hand through the hatch.

The witness then agreed with counsel that he saw blood on this man's "right thumbnail."

The prosecution then called Margaret Farrell, a neighbour of Mr Dooley's at Sister Senan Court, to give evidence.

Ms Farrell told the court she remembered a lot of people "coming and going to his house" in the months before he died.

The people were often in groups of three and Ms Farrell agreed with counsel that they could have been of school going age and some would be wearing school uniforms.

"I asked him who they were and he said his grandchildren. I was afraid he was giving them drink," she said.

Marcin Szczepanik, a clothes collector was then called by the prosecution to give evidence.

Mr Szczepanik told the court he would collect clothes from clothes bin areas around the country.

He was working with Andrew Reddy, a driver of the clothes truck, at Granary Court collection point in Edenderry, on February 20.

Mr Reddy used a key to open a blue bin and it was just over half full with clothes.

As both men started loading clothes bags from the bin into the truck, they noticed a baseball bat in the corner of the bin bank.

Mr Szczepanik told the court he put the baseball bat into the truck and it stayed there for the rest of the day.

He later got a call from his employer looking for the baseball bat and he handed it over.

The trial continues tomorrow before Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan.

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News