A YOUNG man who assaulted and then pushed a homeless man into the rubbish chute of an apartment complex was jailed for life for a murder a judge described as "the stuff of nightmares."
David 'Locky' O'Loughlin (31) had denied the murder of Liam Manley (59) who died after being trapped inside the narrow rubbish chute - and whose body was only discovered when a maintenance man tried to clear the blocked chute after being alerted by residents.
He was convicted of the murder by unanimous decision of a Central Criminal Court jury today after two hours and ten minutes of deliberations.
O'Loughlin - who remained emotionless with his head bowed as the guilty verdict was returned - received a mandatory life sentence, backdated to 2014.
The court heard he had more than 50 previous convictions including four for serious assaults.
Ms Justice Tara Burns said the killing was "truly the stuff of nightmares."
"(The victim) was an old, frail and defenceless man....it was beyond shocking," she said.
In a victim impact statement, the Manley family said they have been "haunted" by the manner of the 59 year old's death while trapped in the rubbish chute.
"It will haunt us forever," they said.
"He did not deserve to be pushed into a chute four storeys up."
"It is disturbing to hear how Liam was left to die - alone and afraid."
The family said the victim was "a kind, caring man who loved life."
While he suffered from alcohol problems, he was inoffensive and had never hurt anyone.
The Manley family said the O'Loughlin had also shown no remorse over the shocking death suffered by Mr Manley.
The prosecution claimed Mr Manley met a particularly horrible death after becoming trapped in the rubbish chute.
O'Loughlin of Garden City Apartments, North Main Street, Cork denied the murder of Mr Manley on May 12 2013.
The trial, before Ms Justice Burns and a jury of seven women and five men, had been heard before the Central Criminal Court, sitting in Cork, for the past three weeks.
Prosecutor Patrick McGrath SC said Mr Manley, who suffered from an alcohol problem and had been assisted by Cork Simon Community, met a gruesome death in the rubbish chute.
"There is no doubt that as a result of his (O'Loughlin's) actions, he (Manley) met a particularly horrible death."
Mr McGrath said there was absolutely no justification for what happened to Mr Manley.
He said that there was no suggestion either provocation or self defence were involved.
However, defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC said the accused believed Mr Manley would pass safely down the chute and into a large bin at the bottom.
Mr O'Higgins said that what the accused did on the night was "morally repugnant" and without justification.
He had urged the jury to acquit his client.
"The defence case is that David O'Loughlin put him into the chute and believed he would pass through the chute and land in the (catchment) bin at the bottom."
Ms Justice Burns concluded her instructions to the jury at lunchtime and they returned a unanimous verdict at 4.30pm.
During the trial, Detective Garda Padraig Harrington gave evidence of calling to the defendant's flat immediately after Mr Manley's body had been discovered in the rubbish chute.
The detective said the defendant insisted he had not left the flat complex that weekend and had hosted a small party with friends.
Det Garda Harrington noted marks on the defendant's knuckles and blood smears on the wall of his flat.
On May 21 2013, Gardaí put it to the defendant during an interview at the Bridewell Garda Station that CCTV footage showed him around Cork city centre - and later in the company of the deceased.
Detective Garda Harrington said the defendant replied: "I was probably making up sh*t to make you go away because I was just after waking up. I had been on a bender for two days...when you called I was off-guard. I was impaired from drink and drugs. I was putting the pieces of the jigsaw together."
Gardaí pressed the accused to offer an explanation to the Manley family over precisely what had happened.
"There will be answers but not on your terms," interview notes recorded the defendant as replying.
"I am not playing games. Even if I told you what the argument was about the media wouldn't have it until after the trial."
"Whatever one's excuse might be, one will never justify something like that."
When asked by Gardaí what a 26 year old man was doing in the early hours of the morning with a 59 year old reliant on the Simon Community, the defendant replied: "Being drunk and being an idiot. Both. Don't know what we are doing or where we are going."
Gardaí pointed out to the defendant during one interview that the deceased was "a harmless man."
"He is a small man, you are a big bloke. Something must have gone seriously wrong? He weighs eight stone and you weigh around 13 stone," Det Garda Harrington asked?
Maintenance official Michael Francis Ford said he attended the complex on May 13 2013 after receiving a complaint about the rubbish chute being blocked.
Mr Ford said he used rods to try and clear the chute of trapped rubbish bags and was deeply shocked when the body of the deceased suddenly dislodged and fell out.
He immediately raised the alarm.
Local resident Miguel Marques said Mr Ford asked him to come over and see what had just fallen from the chute.
“There was a body under the (rubbish) chute - (he) was on his knees slumped over like a Muslim praying. I could not see the head. His shoulders were touching the floor. It was strange,” he said.
Witnesses said a red liquid similar to ketchup was also leaking from the chute.
Evidence was previously heard from a number of witnesses about alleged events in an apartment at the complex on May 12 2015.
Mary Kate Fitzgerald said the defendant told her he just punched a man a couple of times and then threw him down a rubbish chute.
She said she laughed and thought he was just "drunk and talking crap."
Ms Fitzgerald and another young woman, Jessica Lowther, were visiting a fourth floor apartment in the complex that day and their statements to Gardaí were read out to the trial.
Ms Lowther said she heard a man declaring: “Mary, now is not a good time. I am just after f***ing someone down a drainpipe.....I was thinking, how could you f*** someone down a drainpipe?"
The young woman said the man - who someone else called 'Locky' - sounded very drunk at the time.
Later, it was alleged the defendant assured everyone that the man involved was fine and had gone home.
The trial also heard that blood spatters were found on the walls of the apartment and near the rubbish chute opening.
David O'Mahony called to Mr O'Loughlin's apartment that evening and said the defendant was drinking with the deceased.
It was alleged that the defendant suddenly called the deceased "a kiddy-fiddler" and proceeded to punch him and drag him out of the apartment.
In a subsequent Garda interview, detectives put it to the defendant that such accusations were untrue and totally without foundation.
“He dragged him (Mr Manley) out of the apartment. He was after giving him a couple of punches in the face," Mr O'Mahony said.
"The man’s nose was flattened to his face. He dragged him out of the apartment. I asked him to stop. (But) whatever happened outside...I do not know what happened outside that door.”