Thursday 14 December 2017

Dubliner found guilty of killing one friend and injuring another after night drinking

Martin Townland has been found guilty of killing one friend and injuring another.
Martin Townland has been found guilty of killing one friend and injuring another.
James Carroll was injured during the attack.

Natasha Reid

A 36-YEAR-old man has been found guilty of the manslaughter of his friend and of seriously injuring another man after stabbing them both in their hearts.

Martin Toland of Walkinstown Park pleaded not guilty to murdering 28-year-old Alan Nolan at Cedar Brook Walk, Ballyfermot, Dublin on September 8, 2007. He also pleaded not guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to James Carroll (now 32) on the same occasion.

The defendant claimed he was acting in self-defence when he stabbed both men a number of times after a fight broke out at Mr Nolan’s home.

He said he was in fear for his life because, missing part of a lung and being on a blood thinner, he knew he could die from one bang to the head. He said Mr Nolan produced a knife and this fear increased.

The Central Criminal Court trial heard that all three men spent the night of September 7 playing video games and cards and drinking alcohol in Mr Nolan’s apartment.

Mr Nolan received more than a dozen prank phone calls from an unknown number after 5am. Toland said that the deceased wondered if the calls might be from the same person who had been playing pranks on his sister.

The accused told gardai that Mr Nolan asked him if Toland’s sister might be behind them because both sisters had fallen out. Toland said he didn’t think so and that he suggested not letting their sisters’ falling out come between them.

He said that he and Mr Nolan had a punch-up at one stage but that Mr Carroll had broken it up. He said that he (Toland) and the deceased then went upstairs, where they talked things out for about 10 minutes.

He said, however, that Mr Nolan became aggressive again, blaming Toland’s sister for the phone calls. He claimed that the deceased then produced a knife and came at him.

Toland said he managed to get the knife from him and was backing out of the bedroom with the knife as Mr Carroll arrived.

He claimed that Mr Carroll joined Mr Nolan in threatening him. He said he was ‘jabbing’ at the two of them as they were coming at him, shouting at them to get back and let him leave the house.

He recalled wounding Mr Nolan with the knife once on the landing, but said he could not remember inflicting any other wounds on the men. He said they must have happened as the three men tumbled down the stairs together.

Toland said that he had reached the front door when he noticed Mr Nolan slouched on the couch and Mr Carroll holding his side. He said he immediately rang an ambulance.

However, the jury heard a different account of the stabbings from Mr Carroll, whose life was saved by emergency surgery.

He said that when he first saw the defendant with the knife, Mr Nolan was asking him to get Toland out of the house.

He said he ushered Toland down the stairs. He said they were facing each-other, Toland ahead of him, making ‘a kind of waving motion’ with the knife.

He said Toland was half way out the front door when the deceased shouted something from the stairs, which sent Toland into a fit of rage. He said Toland stabbed him three times in a matter of milliseconds in an effort to get to Mr Nolan.

Mr Carroll agreed that he had actually made the hang-up calls to Mr Nolan that morning, but insisted that these had not led to the fight.

The jury heard medical evidence that the deceased sustained five stab wounds that morning. The fatal wound tracked backwards for 11.5cm, 5cm of which was through the heart.

The surgeon who treated Mr Carroll gave evidence of treating him for a similar stab wound to the heart after he was rushed to hospital.

Mr Justice Barry White had told the jury that, although the defence had not argued for it, the accused was also entitled to have the defence of provocation considered.

He explained that if the jury was satisfied that he had been provoked to such an extent where he lost complete control, he should be found guilty of manslaughter.

Martin Toland was originally tried in 2010, found guilty of both counts and sentenced to life in prison. However, the Court of Criminal Appeal ordered a retrial.

The seven women and five men of this jury delivered a manslaughter verdict when they returned to the courtroom yesterday (Friday). They did not believe Toland’s account of self defence, specifying on the issue paper that the manslaughter verdict was by reason of provocation.

Having deliberated for six hours and 37 minutes over three days, they reached a majority verdict of 10 to two on both counts.

Toland showed no emotion as he was led away but there were shouts of ‘Yes’ from supporters of the deceased when he was remanded in custody for sentencing on June 11.

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