Tuesday 20 August 2019

Father of one fatally stabbed as he sat on couch, murder trial told

Father-of-one Robert Elston
Father-of-one Robert Elston

David Raleigh

A jury has heard that a father of one was fatally stabbed as he sat on a couch in a friend’s house.

Robert Elston (33) died in an ambulance following the fatal stabbing, the Central Criminal Court, sitting in Limerick, heard.

He bled to death after a major blood vessel was sliced with a butcher’s knife.

A post-mortem recorded a 16cm deep stab wound in his lower abdomen.

Mr Elston’s aorta was severed and part of his left kidney was cut off. He sustained another stab wound to his upper abdomen, the court was told.

On the opening day of the trial, Blake Sweeney (21), with an address at Fertha Drive, Cahersiveen, Co Kerry, pleaded not guilty to a single count of murdering Mr Elston, at 1 Fertha Drive, on May 23, 2018.

Blake Sweeney's mother Veronica, Ryan Williamson and Blakes' brother Aaron at the trial of Blake Sweeney for the murder of Robert Elston. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22
Blake Sweeney's mother Veronica, Ryan Williamson and Blakes' brother Aaron at the trial of Blake Sweeney for the murder of Robert Elston. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

Mr Elston regularly travelled to the estate from his home near Tralee to visit his ex-partner and their son, the court heard.

Outlining the prosecution case, Tim O’Leary, senior counsel for the State, told the jury they will hear evidence that, Aaron Sweeney — the accused’s brother who lived with the accused and their mother in the estate — woke up around 4.30am on the morning in question by “someone who appeared to be Mr Elston, shouting outside his home”.

Mr O’Leary said Aaron Sweeney will allege he heard this male say “I’m going to kill him”, and that this man “may have been holding an axe”.

Aaron Sweeney’s car was “set on fire at the same time”, Mr O’Leary said.

“I think you will hear evidence that Blake Sweeney left the house, but came back straight away and took a knife from the kitchen.

“This knife is approximately eight inches long.”

Mr O’Leary said evidence will be heard that the accused took the knife from his house and walked the relatively short distance to a neighbouring house.

He said the court may hear evidence from two prosecution witnesses - Sean McSherry and Nicola Farrell - that they had been drinking with the deceased on the morning he died.

“You may hear them say they saw the accused Blake Sweeney walk into the house, and that Mr Elston was on a sofa, not armed, and sitting down at the time, and that, Blake Sweeney walked in and stabbed Mr Elston.”

Mr O’Leary said the post mortem showed Mr Elston - originally from Lisselton, Co Kerry - sustained “a number of cuts” to his body which were “consistent with a eight-inch butcher’s knife”.

The jury will hear evidence “these wounds caused excessive bleeding, internally and externally”.

The case continues.

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