Wednesday 13 December 2017

Judge directs jury in trial of man accused of stabbing friend to death

Martin Toland at an earlier court appearance. Photo: Courtpix
Martin Toland at an earlier court appearance. Photo: Courtpix

Natasha Reid

THE jury in the trial of a 36-year-old man who stabbed his friend to death has been told it can find him guilty of murder, manslaughter or acquit him for a number of reasons.

Mr Justice Barry White was charging the seven women and five men at the end of the Central Criminal Court trial of Dubliner Martin Toland.

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

The defendant, who is missing part of a lung, claims that he was acting in self-defence when he stabbed both men a number of times at Mr Nolan’s home.

He said he was in fear for his life when they attacked him because, being on a blood thinner, he knew he could die from one blow.

Mr Justice White told the jurors that on the count of murder, they must decide if the killing was unlawful. He said that there were two circumstances where it would not be unlawful: a pure accident and self defence.

He explained that if they were satisfied that Mr Toland had used no more than reasonable force to defend himself, then he would have no criminal responsibility and should be acquitted.

He noted the defence’s case that such force was necessary as, according to Mr Toland, Mr Nolan had produced a knife, both men were threatening him, he was in fear and was in ill health.

The judge said that if the jury was of the view that the force used was unreasonable, but that the defendant believed it to be reasonable, then this would be a qualified defence resulting in a verdict of manslaughter.

He said that there would be no defence if the accused knew that the amount of force he was using was unreasonable and that this would result in a verdict of murder.

He said that although the defence hadn’t 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, then he should be found guilty of manslaughter.

He said there could also be a verdict of manslaughter if the jury found Mr Toland was acting unlawfully but recklessly or if the State failed to prove that he intended to kill or seriously injure Mr Nolan.

He said that on the count of intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Mr Carroll, self defence could also be a defence.

He said that in this situation, the jury’s objective position would not play a role, just the defendant’s state of mind.

“If the accused, in inflicting injury on Mr Carroll, was using no more force than he believed reasonable, then he’s entitled to an acquittal,” he explained.

However, he said the opportunity to retreat must be taken into consideration on both counts.

The jury deliberated for an hour and a half today without reaching a verdict. They were sent home for the evening and will resume deliberations tomorrow morning.

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