Tuesday 12 December 2017

'I was in a rage. It was a stupid mistake' - what man on trial for murder told gardai

Criminal Courts of Justice
Criminal Courts of Justice

Alison O'Riordan

The man charged with the murder of archaeologist Emmett Connolly initially told gardai in an interview he panicked and stabbed the deceased after a fight but later told them he had stabbed Mr Connolly in a "rage", a jury has heard.

Kevin Moran (30) of Lodgeview, Coothill, Co Cavan, but originally from Shankill in Dublin, is charged with the murder of Emmet Connolly (32) at Lodgeview, Cootehill on September 29 2013.

When asked how he pleaded to the charge when the trial opened on Monday, the widowed father-of-three Mr Moran said “not guilty. Not guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter”. This plea was not accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Yesterday, counsel for the DPP, Cormac Quinn JC called Garda Jim Matthews of Bailieborough Garda Station in Cavan to give evidence.

Mr Matthews had taken Mr Moran to the interview room on September 29, 2013, to commence the interview.

Reading from Kevin Moran's first statement, Mr Quinn recounted to the court how Mr Moran said all Emmet Connolly wanted that evening was drugs.

"Coke or E’s, he was mad for E’s. He was getting thick because he couldn’t get them. He was getting everybody to ring people, he was getting so pissed off about getting drugs. I was just trying to have a laugh out of him," read Mr Quinn.

"When I went to hug him, he grabbed me firmly by the arm, and said don’t. I was trying to include him in the craic," continued Mr Quinn, reading Kevin Moran's statement.

The jury of  seven men and five women heard how a "drink fuelled" argument ensued between Emmet Connolly and Kevin Moran.

Continuing to read from the interview given by Kevin Moran on September 29, Mr Quinn recounted how Mr Moran said Emmet Connolly grabbed him in the kitchen of the house before Mr Moran hit him a box in the face.

"It didn’t even faze him. I must have slipped and he started hitting me to the ribs and stomach and hit me to the face. We were on the ground when doing this. I panicked and I grabbed something off the kitchen sink, a knife, a bread knife" read Mr Quinn, recounting what Kevin Moran said.

“Mr Connolly came for me again and I stabbed him in stomach area two or three times, I panicked. He fell then against my big freezer. He fell back against it and crunched down and I panicked and I freaked out then realising what had happened. I didn’t stab him again, I stabbed him two or three times in stomach is all" continued to read Mr Quinn when recounting what Mr Moran said.

“I just panicked he was so strong and getting the better of me the children were upstairs. It was out of fear. I thrusted it towards his stomach area, two or three times, that’s what I recall.”

“I don’t know how to describe the knife, big, it was black handled, I use it for cutting bread, rolls and all the meat" read Mr Quinn recounting Kevin Moran's first statement.

In the afternoon, prosecuting counsel Mr Quinn called Detective Garda Jerome Crawford, also attached to Bailieborough Garda Station who had taken the second version of Kevin Moran's statement on September 29 2013.

By this time Dr Michael Curtis State Pathologist had looked at the body of Emmet Connolly and reported to the guards that there were no stab marks to Mr Connolly's stomach.

Reading from the statement, Mr Quinn told the court how despite Kevin Moran's claims that Emmet Connolly had hit him, there was no markings on Kevin Moran.

Reading Kevin Moran's further statement, Mr Quinn recounted: "I was trying to get up, I was freaking out and someone who I didn’t know was attacking me. I didn’t plan for this to happen, I’m not a bad person. I didn’t want anything like this.”

The court heard how police at the time told Kevin Moran his account of the night was "bullshit and he didn't stab him (Emmet Connolly) to the front at all."

"Maybe he did turn around to go, I don’t know. I think I stabbed him in the front, I thrusted it (the knife)" Mr Quinn reported Kevin Moran as saying.

Mr Quinn said the guards outlined to Kevin Moran at the time how Emmet Connolly's wounds were to his upper back and it looked like someone had been standing over him, coming down on him with a knife.

"He has defensive wounds to his arms” the guards told Kevin Moran at the time, read Mr Quinn.

Mr Quinn recounted how Kevin Moran then said he stabbed him in a "downward moment when he went to get back up off the ground.”

"I think he turned away from me for a second and I stabbed in the back and when he tried to get up I stabbed him again" recounted Mr Quinn.

"Could you have stabbed him in a frenzy" asked the guards at the time.

“I could have. He attacked me in my house," read Mr Quinn of what Kevin Moran said.

Still reading the statement, Mr Quinn recounted how the guards had asked that day: "Emmet tried to get back up, he was trying to get away and trying to make it to the door?”

To which Kevin Moran replied: “I didn’t mean to kill him, he must have been. I was pissed off after the fight.”

“I was on my feet facing him, I put it (the knife) in my right hand, I went for him, he turned his back to me, he was facing away and I stabbed him. I don’t know how many times I stabbed him. I remember stabbing him again then.”

"It wasn’t my intention to kill him, a temper came over me. I knew I was after doing something very wrong when I calmed down" read Mr Quinn.

Still reading from the statement Mr Quinn read how the guards said at the time "you can’t realistically call that self-defence when a man is trying to move away from you and heading for the patio door. Once he turns his back to you, self-defence doesn’t come into it does it.”

“I wasn’t looking at it like that. I was in a rage. It was a stupid mistake" said Kevin Moran as read by Mr Quinn to the court.

According to Mr Quinn, guards concluded the interview dated September 29, 2013, saying "basically you told a few lies at the start but came true at the end. Emmet was on the ground and trying to get back up and you stabbed him again."

The court also heard from Detective Sargent Thomas Carey attached to the Ballistics Department of the Garda technical bureau who conducted a technical examination at the scene and found a seven inch kitchen knife which was heavily blood stained.

“On the front t shirt I noted a number of tears and on the two shoulders of the  t-shirt and on the back of the left shoulder of the t shirt also, not to the stomach area of the t-shirt" said Det Sarg Carey.

Det Sgt Carey attended the post mortem carried out by Dr Curtis and told the court how Emmet Connolly had 18 stabs wounds mostly to his left arm and left back.

The prosecution also called Dr Martina McBride who works in the biology section of the forensic science lab and had attended the scene, where she found Emmet Connolly to have "multiple stabs wounds in the upper back area" and in her opinion Mr Connolly "received the wounds when on the floor in a hunched sitting position."

The trial continues under Justice Paul Carney.

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