Jury fails to reach verdict on whether a 20-year-old Dublin youth is guilty of murdering a German student
Thomas Heinrich was stabbed in Rialto in 2012
A jury has failed to reach a verdict on whether a 20-year-old Dublin youth is guilty of murdering a German student, having already found him guilty of assaulting another in the city a year and a half ago.
Thomas Heinrich and Robert Rinker were stabbed on St Anthony’s Road in Rialto on December 1st, 2012. Mr Rinker survived, but 22-year-old Mr Heinrich died.
Wesley Kelly (20) of St Anthony’s Road had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Heinrich and to assault causing harm to Mr Rinker. On Monday a jury in the Central Criminal Court found him guilty of assault by a majority verdict of 11-1 but retired that evening to continue their deliberations in respect of the murder charge against him.
Mr Kelly's co-accused, a 17 year-old youth, who could not be named because of his age, had also denied the charges but was found unanimously guilty on both counts by the jury on Monday.
Yesterday (Tues) evening, after 10 hours and 2 minutes of deliberations over four days, the jury failed to reach a majority verdict in respect of the murder charge against Mr Kelly. The foreman of the jury confirmed to Mr Justice Barry White that there was no prospect of them reaching a unanimous verdict.
The judge thanked the jury for their service and said these matters were for the individual conscience of each jury member. There was no reaction from the accused as the verdict was read out.
It was the State’s case that both accused had gone looking for a fight and were being prosecuted on the basis of joint enterprise.
The 17-year-old said he was walking past the apartments in the early hours of the morning when someone had thrown a can of beer at him.
The court heard he went to get Mr Kelly telling him he had been attacked.
Ms Aileen Donnelly SC defending Mr Kelly told the jury in her closing speech that if he was acting in self-defence he was entitled to an acquittal.
“At most we have a group of young men brandishing knives out of some sort of bravado,” said Ms Donnelly.
She said Mr Kelly wanted to leave before the fatal wound was inflicted on Mr Heinrich and that his co-accused’s garda interviews supported this.
Mr Justice White remanded both of the accused on continuing bail until June 23 for sentencing. The 17-year-old will be sentenced on both counts while Mr Kelly will be sentenced on the assault charge on June 23.
The accused both told gardai in interviews that they were acting in self-defence.
The court heard Mr Rinker brought two knives to the scene and Mr Heinrich brought one.
Mr Rinker, who is from Stuttgart, gave evidence that he met Mr Heinrich on his first day at Griffith College, Dublin. They were studying there for a number of months as part of their courses in Germany.
He said that they and two other German students went to Mr Heinrich’s apartment around 4am on December 1, following a night out.
He said that he and one student remained on the couch while the deceased and another friend smoked on the balcony.
“I heard Lars and Thomas shout in English... I asked what was going on,” he said. “They answered that there were two boys down on the street shouting. I said I will go downstairs and handle them.”
He said he went downstairs and met two boys, but couldn’t understand much of what they said or remember much of what he said.
“The smaller one was really aggressive, shouting,” he said, adding that Mr Heinrich arrived downstairs before the two boys left.
“The last words from the smaller one were: ‘We’ll be back in a minute’,” he said.
He said they were back upstairs some time later when Mr Heinrich told him that the two people were back.
“I went to the balcony,” he said. “I saw the two guys and the taller one had a knife.”
Mr Rinker said that he then got two knives and went downstairs to scare the boys. He said he opened the door and they shouted at each other.
He said he went back inside but the two boys followed him. He said he had both knives in his hands, with the blades pointed downwards.
“I was walking backwards in the hallway and the two boys were coming towards me,” he said. “I saw that the taller one wanted to turn around. But the shorter one was becoming more aggressive towards me and the taller one turned towards me again.”
“Then they both came closer to me. I went further backwards and Thomas came downstairs,” he continued. “The taller one had a knife.”
He said that he and Mr Heinrich went back as far as they could until they hit the wall.
“They were standing right in front of me,” he continued. “I didn’t know what to do. Then I dropped the two knives and attacked the one holding the knife.”
He said he managed to drag this person outside and the shorter boy followed them, while Mr Heinrich remained inside.
He said that he fought with the taller boy on the ground, while the smaller boy was behind him.
“After the fight, I felt pain in my left shoulder and rib area,” he said.
“Thomas opened the door for me and I ran in,” he continued. “Thomas was trying to push the door closed but they were pushing from the other side… I know they came in because I saw the CCTV but I’ve no recollection.”
Mr Rinker said he went back upstairs where he noticed some of his eight stab wounds. Mr Heinrich then arrived, clutching his stomach. They were both taken to hospital, where they underwent surgery but Mr Heinrich didn’t survive.
He agreed with Aileen Donnelly SC, defending Mr Kelly, that it was her client to whom he referred as the taller one and with whom he had fought on the street. He also agreed that Mr Kelly did not have a knife when he punched him on the ground.
Mr Sean Gillane SC defending the 17-year-old said the case was not a competition between types of people.
“This case can’t be a competition or contest between different kinds of people,” he said.
Mr Gillane said that the law in relation to self-defence did allow for situations of panic and confusion.
“It’s obvious on this night that a thousand foolish moments were crammed into 10 or 15 seconds,” he said.
He said his client never intended to kill Mr Heinrich and told gardai he stuck out his knife and the German ran at it.
State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy gave evidence the post mortem showed there were three knife wounds including a shallow one to the temple and penetrating wounds to the chest and abdomen.
She said there was a superficial wound to the left temple, a stab wound to his chest and one to the right lower abdomen, which was 13cm deep.
The pathologist said the cause of death was a stab wound to the abdomen, hemorrhage and shock due to blood loss from the left common iliac artery and vein.
Consultant cardio-thoracic surgeon Mr Michael Tolan said he treated Mr Rinker, who had three injuries to his chest area and one to his abdomen, at St. James’s Hospital on December 1, 2012.