Father-of-two in 'sex blackmail' case gets life sentence for murder
A MAN who strangled a woman he claimed was blackmailing him before dumping her body "intended no harm", a court has heard.
FAS worker Colm Deely (41), of School Road in Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Deirdre McCarthy (43), between 11pm on March 27, 2011, and noon the following day.
But the jury found the father of two guilty by unanimous verdict in just under three hours of deliberation at the Central Criminal Court yesterday.
Mr Justice Barry White said he was handing down the mandatory life sentence.
Ms McCarthy was socialising in a local pub with friends including Deely on the night she went missing.
The court heard Ms McCarthy's body was found on Fanore Beach four days later and that Deely did not take part in the search to find her.
It also heard that after her body was found Deely had attempted to take his own life by stabbing himself in the stomach and was hospitalised.
Deely told gardai they were "fooling around" in Ms McCarthy's bed and put his hands around her neck but did not mean to kill her.
He claimed Ms McCarthy started laughing at him, that she was blackmailing him for money, saying that she would tell Deely's wife and children.
Patrick Giblin, defending, told the court that his client was sorry for what he had done but "intended no harm".
"He wishes it to be known he was judged by the jury in legal terms. But my client wishes it to be known he intended no harm in a layman's sense and he wishes to apologise to all concerned and hopes someday his apology might be accepted," said Mr Giblin.
Ms McCarthy's sister Helen Geoghegan read a victim impact statement on behalf of the family.
"I don't think we will ever be able to truly put into words the devastation that we still feel each day," said Ms Geoghegan.
"Dee was a happy, easygoing person who lived a very simple life. She didn't have much need for the material things in life but she was a very caring person.
"She went to work, socialised with her friends and also loved spending time with her family, especially all the children in her life, her nephews and nieces."
Ms McCarthy, who worked in a B&B in Ballyvaughan, was a mutual friend of Deely's and he had known her for up to 20 years.
She was also a friend of Deely's wife and was a witness at their wedding, the court heard.
Deely told gardai in an interview that he went to Ms McCarthy's house where he said he was drinking a lot of vodka and the pair were lying on the bed.
"We were kissing and cuddling, I can't remember if we had sex," he said.
"She said you can forget about your money . . . she was laughing at me," Deely told gardai.
"I must have rolled over and was holding her by the neck . . it all happened in a flash," he said.
He said he removed her from the house and when he put her in the car she was not breathing.
"I stopped the car . . . I put her over the wall . . . she rolled down to the sea . . . Jesus, I didn't mean any of it," he said.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jabbar gave evidence that the cause of death was asphyxia due to manual strangulation and that blunt force trauma to the head, trunk and extremities was a contributing factor to the death.
But another pathologist, Professor Jack Crane, told the court that bruising found on the body did not indicate Ms McCarthy was assaulted before she died.