Sunday 19 November 2017

Man accused of murdering ex-girlfriend's partner set fire to blood-stained hoodie, court hears

James Connors denies murdering Jason Ryan in 2012
James Connors denies murdering Jason Ryan in 2012

Eoin Reynolds

A man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend's partner set fire to a blood-stained hoodie he had been wearing on the night of the fatal fight, the Central Criminal Court heard today.

James Connors (29), of Rosemount, Drinagh, Co Wexford, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 27-year-old Jason Ryan at Hollyville Heights in Wexford Town on January 25, 2012.

Prosecution Counsel Mr Gerard Clarke SC today called Detective Garda Alan Byrne of Wexford Garda Station. Det Gda Byrne agreed with Mr Clarke that he interviewed Mr Connors at Wexford Garda Station on the afternoon of January 28, 2012.

Det Gda Byrne agreed that during the course of that interview Mr Connors said he had forgotten to wash the hoodie when he washed the rest of his clothes, following the fatal stabbing shortly after mid-night on January 25. Later on that night at Rosemount in Drinagh, outside Wexford Town, he took the hoodie off. He added: "I burned it. There was blood on it from wiping my face. I burned it to cinders." He said he used a lighter and a stick to set it on fire.

Det Gda Byrne also agreed that Mr Connors told him that he called Mr Ryan's girlfriend Samantha Hore at 2.12am, about two hours after the stabbing. Ms Hore had been Mr Connors's girlfriend for ten years before she started dating Mr Ryan. He said he called her to find out about Mr Ryan's condition. "She just hung up on me," he told the garda.

Det Gda Byrne asked Mr Connors if he had "lured" Mr Ryan away from security cameras in Hollyville Heights so he could kill him. He answered: "No I did not."

He then asked him if he set out to kill Mr Ryan and he replied "no I did not".

He said that he called to Mr Ryan's home in Hollyville Heights that night to tell him to forget about their ongoing feud, which had begun when Mr Ryan started going out with Samantha Hore. He said he wanted to tell Mr Ryan that he had started going with someone else and "to leave it off and forget about it".

Mr Clarke also called Garda Brian Cummins of Wexford Garda Station. Garda Cummins agreed that he had interviewed Mr Connors earlier on January 28, 2012.

In that interview Gda Cummins agreed that he had put it to Mr Connors that he could have left the scene before an altercation began but made no attempt to do so.

He said that camera footage showed that Mr Connors called to the door of Mr Ryan's home and that Mr Ryan at first did not come to the door but spoke to him from the first floor of the building.

Mr Connors told gardai that at this point he saw Mr Ryan holding a bat and that he had a knife in his trousers so he "tutted and walked away". Garda Cummins put it to him that there was a 51 second gap between Mr Ryan standing at the first floor and then exiting his apartment. During that time he said Mr Connors walked slowly up the ramp and finished a small bottle of vodka he had been drinking. "You did not choose to leave the area," he said.

The fight that followed was not captured by CCTV but Mr Connors told Garda Cummins that Mr Ryan hit him on the head with the baton and that he pulled the knife from Mr Ryan's trousers and stabbed him with it. During the interview, he said his memory of what followed the fight was hazy due to the blows he received to the head.

Garda Cummins put it to him that he escaped through his cousin's apartment in Hollyville Heights, jumped a wall onto John's Road where he called his then girlfriend to collect him. He washed himself and his clothes and got someone to collect his dole card and money. "All this doesn't point to someone who was dazed," said Gda Cummins.

The trial continues before Justice Margaret Heneghan tomorrow.

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