Saturday 20 January 2018

Landlord describes finding body of tenant with throat cut

Natasha Reid

A LIMERICK landlord became emotional today as he described finding one of his tenants dead and with his throat cut.

He was giving evidence in the trial of a 33-year-old Limerick man charged with murdering a 54-year-old man, who was found in his home with 41 wounds to his body.


Gerard Manning of Upper Gerald Griffin Street has pleaded not guilty to murdering Martin Purcell at his apartment on Wickham Street, Limerick between September 28 and 30, 2011.


Clive Kenneally told the Central Criminal Court that he rented out three flats in the building next door to his jeweller’s shop on Wickham Street. Mr Purcell was one of his tenants, he said.


He testified that Mr Purcell, whom he described as a good tenant, meticulous and clean, paid his rent in the shop early every Thursday morning. However, he said Mr Purcell had not done so on Thursday, September 29th, but he didn’t pay much attention to that.


He said that another tenant, Michael Hederman, called into the shop on Friday morning September 30th. He had a letter addressed to Mr Purcell and said it had been there since the day before.


Mr Kenneally said that he decided to go to Mr Purcell’s flat with an employee, Pat O’Dwyer, to check on him. He said he knocked on his door and called out his name a couple of times, but got no response.


“I hit the door harder and the door moved slightly,” he testified. “Pat pushed the door open and I saw Martin on the ground.”


He became emotional as he recalled seeing Mr Purcell lying on the floor.


“I saw a line across his neck. It looked like blood,” he said. “I think I said: ‘Oh Jesus’. I froze.”


Mr O’Dwyer, a watchmaker in the jeweller’s shop, said Mr Purcell’s trousers were down around his knees when he saw him. He said he saw blood on his throat.


The third tenant in the building, Jamie McNamara, said he could not explain how gardai had found a key to Mr Purcell’s flat in his home, but said he never had a key to Mr Purcell’s apartment.


The prosecution had earlier told the jury that the deceased was a quiet, inoffensive, retired man.


In her opening speech, Úna Ni Raifeartaigh SC, prosecuting, described the scene that met the jeweller and watch maker that morning as horrific.


She said a pathologist would testify that Mr Purcell sustained 41 wounds, including incise and slash wounds, but that most were stab wounds.


“The largest was a gaping wound in the neck, from the centre to the right-hand side, indicative of a person’s throat being cut,” she said.


She said that the organs that bore the brunt of the attack were his heart, lungs and aorta, and described his death as appalling.


Ms Ni Raifeartaigh said that the accused was contacted by gardai a few days after Mr Purcell was found, but denied ever having known him or being in his apartment.


“This is significant when two fingerprints in blood matching his were found at the scene,” she said.


The trial, which is expected to last two to three weeks, will continue on Monday before Mr Justice Paul Carney and a jury of seven men and five women.

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