Sunday 22 April 2018

'He was my boy' - Man accused of murdering six-month-old son told gardai he had never hurt him, court hears

John Tighe (40) of Lavallyroe, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, pictured leaving Central Criminal Court in Dublin this evening where he is on trial for the murder of his six-and-a-half month old son, Joshua Sussbier Tighe, at his home on June 1, 2013 Picture: Collins Courts
John Tighe (40) of Lavallyroe, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, pictured leaving Central Criminal Court in Dublin this evening where he is on trial for the murder of his six-and-a-half month old son, Joshua Sussbier Tighe, at his home on June 1, 2013 Picture: Collins Courts

Eoin Reynolds

John Tighe, who is on trial accused of murdering his six-month-old son, told gardaí he has never hurt his son, saying "he was my boy", a court has heard.

Mr Tighe (40) of Lavallyroe, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo has pleaded not guilty to murdering his son Joshua Sussbier Tighe at his home on June 1, 2013.

Under cross examination today Detective Garda Ken Waldron told defence counsel Desmond Dockery SC that Mr Tighe and Joshua's mother Natasha Sussbier had a baby girl in October 2015. They are no longer together, he added.

The jury of nine women and three men also listened to memos of interviews given by the accused to gardai at various times from Joshua's death and following his arrest in 2015. Det Gda Waldron agreed with prosecution counsel Patrick Reynolds BL that Mr Tighe told gardai that he loved his son and would never hurt him. He added that he was "clumsy" and a "f**king eejit" for leaving tissues within his son's reach while he went to the toilet.

The prosecution alleges that Mr Tighe murdered the infant by putting a wad of tissue paper in the child's throat. From the outset Mr Tighe has maintained that he was changing the baby's nappy, went to the toilet, and when he returned the child was choking.

Mr Tighe also explained to gardai that he had a medical condition that caused him severe pain when he needed to go to the toilet. Sometimes the pain could be so severe it would drop him to his knees. When he left baby Joshua, he said he felt the urge to pee and didn't want to wait in case the pain struck.

During the course of the interviews gardai showed Mr Tighe a wad of tissue paper they had created that they said was similar in dimension to what pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber found in baby Joshua's throat. The wad consisted of two pieces of tissue paper each measuring 260 millimetres by 300 millimetres. They asked him how the child could have swallowed it and he replied that it was "unbelievable," adding: "I would have trouble getting that down my throat."

The wad that the pathologist removed from Joshua's throat measured 5.5cm by 3.5cm by 2.5cm, weighed 19 grams and was egg-shaped. Mr Tighe said he didn't see the baby put the tissue in his mouth but that is the only explanation for how it got there. He added that it must have been pushed further down by the accused man's attempts to remove it.

When gardai asked if he deliberately put the tissue in the child's throat he said: "No, never ever once in my life did I ever try to hurt him in any way. He was my boy."

He told them he loved Joshua and asked: "Why would I do that?"

Gardai also asked him to explain the presence of blood on the baby's clothes, Mr Tighe's pyjamas and on the floor and wall of his home. The baby's bloodied clothes were found in the hallway and Mr Tighe was not wearing the blood-stained pyjama bottoms when emergency services arrived. He told gardai that he must have caused the bleeding when he tried to remove the obstruction with his fingers. He couldn't stand seeing blood on his child so he removed the baby's clothes and threw them against a wall in the hallway, leaving a blood stain on the wall. He could not remember changing out of his blood-stained pyjama bottoms but said he must have done so before the emergency services arrived.

Det Gda Waldron agreed with Mr Dockery that in his interviews with gardai Mr Tighe consistently said that he must have "pre-balled" the tissues and left them within the baby's reach when he went to the toilet. He also agreed that the accused man was extremely upset throughout.

The prosecution has completed its evidence and the trial will continue on Tuesday in front of the jury and Justice Patrick McCarthy

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