Saturday 25 May 2019

Man accused of killing girlfriend was very jealous, trial told

Amy McCarthy was found dead in a derelict building in Cork. Photo: Provision
Amy McCarthy was found dead in a derelict building in Cork. Photo: Provision

Ralph Riegel

A YOUNG man whose girlfriend was found badly beaten and strangled in a derelict Cork house was very jealous and believed she had cheated on him.

The revelation came as Adam O'Keeffe (27) denied the murder of young mother of one Amy McCarthy (22) but admitted her manslaughter.

O'Keeffe is charged with the murder of Ms McCarthy between April 29/30 2017 on the second floor of a derelict office complex at Sheares Street in Cork city centre.

In opening the prosecution case before Justice Eileen Creedon and a Central Criminal Court jury of six men and six women, Sean Gillane SC said the relationship between the defendant and Ms McCarthy was often blighted by alcohol dependency and jealousy.

"It was a volatile relationship on occasions - it was quite up and down," he said.

Both Ms McCarthy and the defendant had alcohol dependency issues.

However, Ms McCarthy had been making valiant efforts to deal with her alcohol issues, in part because of the birth of her young son, Adam, in January 2016.

Ms McCarthy had been involved in a relationship with O'Keeffe for about three to four years before her death.

Mr Gillane said that O'Keeffe, who was originally from the east Cork area but had an address at St Vincent's Hostel on Angelsea Terrace in Cork city, had "expressed jealousy on a regular basis."

He said it was the State case that, on April 29 2017, O'Keeffe met Ms McCarthy in Cork city but later became involved in a dispute with her.

"A heated argument developed between Adam O'Keeffe and Amy McCarthy - it seemed to be based on a belief or assertion by Mr O'Keeffe that Amy McCarthy had cheated on him."

Mr Gillane said the movements of the defendant and the deceased around Cork city centre that day - along with a number of other individuals who were drinking with them - was caught on CCTV security camera footage.

Twice, the defendant and the deceased were seen going to an off-license on Washington Street.

Nearby, a homeless person had discovered access into a derelict office complex and it was being used as a squat.

That person informed the defendant of the Sheares Street premises.

O'Keeffe went there together with Ms McCarthy and two other individuals late on the evening of April 29.

Ms McCarthy was never seen alive outside the squat after that.

Around 6.30am on April 30, the defendant and two other men went to the nearby Mercy University Hospital (MUH) and sought medical attention from a security guard and nurse on duty.

Paramedics immediately went to the derelict property on Sheares Street and found the body of Ms McCarthy lying on her back on the second floor.

Blood spatters were on the wall and paramedics became suspicious of the position of the body.

"Injuries to her were immediately apparent....(including) extensive bruising to her scalp, face and neck," Mr Gillane said.

Paramedics were unable to revive Ms McCarthy and the Gardaí were notified.

A post mortem examination by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster found that Ms McCarthy died from multiple injuries including blunt force trauma to the head and asphyxia caused by manual strangulation.

The young woman had suffered brain swelling and a subdural haemorrhage.

Blood tests revealed a very high concentration of alcohol in her system.

The defendant was interviewed by Gardaí at the scene but he said Ms McCarthy had left the area where he was sleeping during the night.

He became concerned when she did not return and, when he went to look for her, found her unresponsive on the second floor.

Mr Gillane said the defendant was arrested by Gardaí on August 1 last and, during his third interview session, changed his recollection of events.

The State argued that the defendant now said he accepted he was responsible for what happened but had no recollection of the events involved.

"He blacked out," Mr Gillane said.

The defendant insisted to Gardaí he had no intention to hurt Ms McCarthy and was sorry for what happened.

O'Keeffe, who appeared in court wearing a light blue shirt and dark slacks, remained silent throughout the proceedings.

Ms McCarthy was originally from Greenmount in Cork city centre and was from a close and loving family.

Mr Gillane told the jury she had: "made considerable efforts to overcome her dependency on alcohol."

The trial was told her problems with alcohol had spiralled out of control after her Junior Cert.

Her social circle included the defendant and other people with alcohol and drug problems, many of whom were homeless.

Members of Ms McCarthy's family attended the Central Criminal Court hearing.

Ms McCarthy is survived by her son, Adam, her parents, Brian and Regina, and her siblings, Gillian, Jessica and Hayley.

The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, continues today.

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