Friday 20 September 2019

'Can I go?' - Duffy left in disbelief after verdict finally read aloud

(Stock image)
(Stock image)
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Still standing, Des Duffy took off his glasses and, with a shaking hand, slowly dabbed his eyes with a crumpled tissue.

The 70-year-old man had shed many tears over the course of this most difficult and tragic of trials.

He had wept as he had taken the witness stand, offering the court an explanation for why he had stayed with Desmond 'Dessie' Sullivan, despite enduring decades of emotional and physical abuse from him.

"You don't spend 36 years of your life with somebody if you don't love them," he had said.

He had also wept as he told the court how he was still "grieving, devastated and heartbroken" by what had happened that night. He had lost his partner and he would "never, ever get over that".

The jury had been deliberating for six hours and 44 minutes by the time Judge Paul McDermott instructed them that he would accept a majority verdict.

The faces of the jury members relaxed. After a little while, word came through that they had come to a conclusion, after deliberating for a total of seven hours and 11 minutes.

Judge McDermott took his seat, only to be told that the jury had a quandary - they did not know what to write on the issue paper, though they had come to a verdict.

The situation was easily resolved and the jury emerged.

Yes, they had reached a verdict, written it on the issue paper and signed it, the forewoman indicated.

It was read aloud, Des Duffy's face white and set as he awaited his fate.

And then came the verdict - the accused was not guilty, by a majority of 10 to two.

Mr Duffy exhaled sharply.

He gave the jury a thumbs up and mouthed "thank you".

Three members of Mr Sullivan's family left the courtroom in apparent shock. They did not wish to make any comment.

After it was all over, Des Duffy turned to his barrister, Caroline Biggs, asking her: "Can I go?" in apparent disbelief. "I'll never forget you," he told her emotionally.

Outside the court, surrounded by friends, he sat for a long time as he endeavoured to compose himself, still weeping after all that he has been through.

Irish Independent

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