Tuesday 12 December 2017

Man goes on trial charged with murder of archaeologist Emmett Connolly 18 months ago

Criminal Courts of Justice
Criminal Courts of Justice

Ruaidhrí Giblin

A Dublin man has gone on trial charged with the murder of Emmett Connolly in Cootehill, Co Cavan 18 months ago.

Kevin Moran (30) of Lodgeview, Coothill, Co Cavan, but originally from Shankill in Dublin, is charged with the murder of Emmet Connolly (32) at Lodgeview, Cootehill on September 29 2013.

When asked how he pleaded to the charge, the widowed father-of-three Mr Moran said “not guilty. Not guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter”. This plea was not accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Opening the case in the Central Criminal Court today, counsel for the DPP, Paddy McCarthy SC, said two gardaí went to investigate something that had occurred at a house at Lodgeview, Cootehill, Co Cavan at 12:55am on the date in question.

Mr McCarthy said the first garda opened the door and noticed blood on the kitchen floor.

On entering the kitchen, the garda saw a man lying up against the outside door in a crouched position. The man's arms were “hanging lifelessly by his side,” Mr McCarthy said and there was lots of blood on the floor in the immediate vicinity.

The gardaí telephoned for assistance but in the meantime they searched the house, counsel said.

In a bed upstairs under a duvet, they found a fully clothed Mr Gerard Birt asleep. “He's not on trial,” Mr McCarty said. He was at a party with Mr Connolly and Mr Moran, was drunk and had gone to bed earlier.

Mr McCarthy said there was no previous history between Mr Moran and Mr Connolly and they had not known each other.

Mr Connolly had called to the home of Mr Birt at 12:30 that Saturday afternoon to watch a football match involving Totenham Hotspur and they had a couple of cans of beer there. He had just returned from Australia where was had been working as an archaeologist, the court heard.

While watching the match, Mr Birt was on facebook chatting to Mr Moran. They agreed to meet in a local pub in Cootehill. Mr Birt and Mr Connolly had “6 of 7” pints of lager while Mr Moran, who was only in the pub for two hours, had two “fat frogs”.

At 7:30pm all three men were in Mr Moran's house. At 8:00 pm Mr Birt put Mr Moran's two twin children to bed and at 9pm he went to bed himself, telling the men he was going to lie down for a while.

The next we know, Mr McCarthy said, gardaí arrived on the scene.

According to Mr Moran's statement, counsel said, a row developed between himself and Mr Connolly. Mr Moran suggested that Mr Connolly wanted drugs but no drugs were gotten.

Mr Moran told gardaí, counsel said, that Mr Connolly grabbed him so “I boxed him in the face”. Mr Moran said both of them fell to the ground and started hitting each other again.

He said he managed to get up, was “freaked out” that a man was in his house on top of him attacking him and he grabbed a kitchen knife, counsel said. Mr Moran told gardaí Mr Connolly was coming toward him when he thrust his arm forward and hit him in the stomach with the knife.

Mr McCarthy said there were no wounds to the stomach of Mr Connolly. There was a wound to his chest and all other wounds were to his shoulder and back.

Counsel said the prosecution will say “excessive force” was used by Mr Moran on Mr Connolly, “more force than was reasonably neccessary”.

Mr McCarthy told the jury that the prosecution had to establish Mr Moran committed murder with an intention to kill and the prosecution had to prove that beyond reasonable doubt.

Later, Mr Gerard Birt gave evidence that Mr Moran and Mr Connolly did not know each other. The witness said he went to school with Mr Connolly and had known Mr Moran for about eight years.

Mr Birt said he and Mr Connolly arrived at Kevin Moran's house at around 7:30pm that evening. They had drank about five or six pints in total and had purchased eight cans of carling and a half-bottle of Jameson to bring to the house, he said.

After the kids had gone to bed, Mr Moran rang a few people. They had talked about getting some ecstasy but hadn't gotten any, he said.

Mr Moran and Mr Connolly were talking loudly about “football banter” but it wasn't a row, it was “nothing really” Mr Birt said.

At 9pm Mr Birt said he told Kevin Moran to keep it down because two of the kids were upstairs sleeping. Mr Birt said he was drunk and feeling tired and he told the other two men that he was going to lie down for an hour upstairs.

The next thing he could remember, Mr Birt said, was two gardaí waking him up in the bed upstairs.

Under cross examination from Patrick Gageby SC, Mr Birt said Mr Moran and Mr Connolly seemed to get on well and “they seemed grand”.

Mr Birt said he knew Mr Moran's partner and mother of his children died on September 9 2011.

He confirmed that Mr Moran had become the children's primary carer when their mother died and that the kids looked up to him as an uncle figure.

When asked if he was conscious of the anniversary of her death, Mr Birt said yes. “We would have talked about it a couple of weeks beforehand,” he said.

He said he didn't know how Mr Moran's partner died and when it was suggested by Mr Gageby that she died from the effects of ecstasy, Mr Birt said “oh right”.

Mr Birt said he didn't remember Kevin Moran taking him aside to ask him to ask Mr Connolly not to ask for ecstasy.

The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Paul Carney and a jury of seven men and five women.

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