Monday 18 February 2019

Knife blade 'partially impaled' in former soldier's neck, trial told

Warren O'Connor
Warren O'Connor

Alison O’Riordan

A knife blade was found “partially impaled” in a former soldier's neck when his post-mortem was conducted, a murder trial has heard.

The statement of former Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Khalid Jaber, was read into the record in the Central Criminal Court trial of Gary Watson (35), who is charged with murdering former soldier Warren O’Connor (24) nine years ago in north Dublin.

Mr Watson, with an address at Millbrook Avenue, Kilbarrack, Dublin 13 has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr O’Connor at Hole in the Wall Road, Donaghmede, Dublin 13 on January 16, 2010.

Mr Watson also denies assaulting Philip Woodcock (34) causing him harm on the same occasion and producing a knife to intimidate another person in the course of a dispute.

The trial has previously heard that a fight ensued between two groups of men after Mr Woodcock removed a fuse and cut power to his neighbour’s apartment so an allegedly "noisy house party" would end and the occupants would leave.

James Dwyer SC, prosecuting, read the statement of Dr Jaber, who said he conducted a post-mortem examination on Mr O’Connor’s body at Dublin City Mortuary on January 17, 2010.

Dr Jaber said the cause of death was a penetrating stab wound to the lower anterior of the left side of the neck.

The blade of a stainless steel kitchen knife, which measured 22.5cm in length was found “partially impaled” in Mr O'Connor's neck when the post-mortem was carried out and its handle was not recovered, the court heard.

In his statement, Dr Jaber said the knife had perforated the left ventricle artery as well as the left internal jugular vein causing significant soft tissue haematoma.

Dr Jaber added that the knife's blade had been inserted inside Mr O'Connor's body to a depth of 13cms. “The blade is bent toward the anterior midline making the external part of the blade look as if it was inserted vertically downward,” he said.

There was a “minor curvature” to the external part of the blade, the court heard.

There were no defence type wounds to Mr O’Connor’s hands and his fingers were partially blood-stained, said Dr Jaber, adding that it was unlikely this event would have been caused accidentally by another individual.

Dr Jaber said the hand of the perpetrator who was holding the knife would most likely have been directly in front of the victim or to his left hand-side or in between these two positions.

“Additionally, the perpetrator would have been at a relative height advantage and it was more likely the victim was taken by surprise when he was stabbed unless he was facing the perpetrator,” he said.

In conclusion, Dr Jaber said Mr O’Connor died from a single stab wound from a single-edged knife, which had deeply penetrated the third thoracic vertebrae and caused significant haematoma to the left side of the neck.

Mr Dwyer said Dr Jaber was the final prosecution witness and the State had now closed its case.

Earlier, Garda Damien Carroll told prosecution counsel Eoghan Cole BL that he recovered a black-handled knife from a building near Grattan Wood apartment complex in Donaghmede as well as three knives from a black Honda Civic car. No fingerprints belonging to Mr Watson were found on these knives, said Gda Carroll.

The trial has previously heard that one group - which included Mr Woodcock and the deceased Warren O'Connor - left Grattan Wood apartment complex in a Ford Focus car on the night before it was rammed by another group driving a Honda Civic.

The trial continues on Wednesday before Mr Justice Michael White and a jury of seven men and five women.

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