Wednesday 21 March 2018

Cavan man (57) found guilty of manslaughter of wife

Patricia and Oliver Kierans
Patricia and Oliver Kierans

A 57-year-old Cavan man has been found not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of his wife more than one year ago.

Oliver Kierans (57) of Drumbannon Bailieborough in Cavan had pleaded not guilty to murdering Patricia Kierans (54) on September 5, 2013 at the same address.

He pleaded not guilty to unlawful possession of a 12 gauge double barrel shotgun but was found guilty of that charge earlier this week by the jury.

He was found guilty today of the possession of the same gun with intent to endanger life by a majority verdict of 11 to one.

The jury of five women and seven men returned after more than fifteen hours with a majority verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter by 10 to two. 

The two and a half week trial heard that Patricia Kierans, who had been married to Oliver Kierans for more than 33 years, had moved out of the family home in June 2013.

The Central Criminal Court heard that she had moved in with her sister and had started a relationship with another individual.

The jury were told that this did not sit well with the accused who had recently begun drinking again after abstaining for the summer.

The court heard that out of the Kierans four children, three have moved to Australia along with six of their ten grandchildren.

In his testimony last week (Feb 19), Oliver Kierans described a "fixation" Patricia had that he was having an affair.

When questioned about shortening the barrels of a shotgun by defending counsel Anthony Sammon, the accused said that the reason he did that was because his only child who had remained in Ireland was moving to Australia.

When asked by prosecuting counsel Michael O'Higgins if he had been jealous by the thought of Patricia with someone else, he replied "no".

"They were all gone and I just wanted to end my life," said Oliver Kierans.

On September 5, 2013 the court heard that Mr and Mrs Kierans had gone to the family home together.

The accused told gardai in interviews that he brought his wife to a second floor bedroom to show her he was going to "do away" with himself.

During his testimony, Mr Kierans described how he lifted the gun and "the yoke hit the top of my hand".

The court heard that Patricia Kierans was shot with a shotgun at quite close range sustaining a very serious wound to her chest from which she died.

Garda Adrian O' Hanlon of Virginia Garda Station gave evidence (Feb 11) that he was directed to go to the Kierans family home where he found the body of Patricia Kierans in a bedroom with a cot and dolls in it.

Garda O'Hanlon confirmed that his colleague had checked for a pulse and that there was none present.

It is the states case that afterwards, Oliver Kierans went to The Square bar in Bailieborough where a "siege" took place and he was found by gardai with a sawn off shot gun.

Throughout the two and a half week trial, the jury were shown CCTV footage in which a man identified as Oliver Kierans is seen pointing a double barrel shotgun at a man identified as local guard, Tommy Fay.

In separate CCTV footage from the morning of September 5, a man identified by gardai as Oliver Kierans was seen by the jury, entering Clarkes shop in Bailieborough  to purchase two naggins of whiskey.

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy gave evidence that the cause of death was a shotgun injury to the chest.

She said there was a 4.5 centimetre irregular hole on the upper front part of the body and that there were 500 millilitres of blood in the chest cavity.

She added that there were entry and exit wounds to the sac of the heart and that otherwise, the heart had been healthy.

Professor Cassidy concluded that the cause of death was a shotgun injury to the chest which could have been shot from a distance of 1.2 metres or 4 feet and that the injuries were of such severity that death would have been almost immediate.

Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly excused the jury from service for a period of ten years.

Ms Justice Donnelly remanded Oliver Kierans in custody for sentencing on March 26.

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