Friday 19 January 2018

Man stabbed girlfriend to death because he didn't want anyone else to have her, court hears

Olivia Dunlea O'Brien from Passage West, Co Cork
Olivia Dunlea O'Brien from Passage West, Co Cork

Eoin Reynolds

A man who admits stabbing his girlfriend to death did it because he didn't want anyone else to have her, a prosecution barrister has told a murder trial jury.

Thomas Creed SC said Darren Murphy (40), of Dan Desmond Villas in Passage West, Co Cork, had been cheated on once before and he wasn't going to let it happen again, so he murdered Olivia Dunlea at her home in Pembroke Crescent on February 17, 2013.

Mr Murphy denies the murder charge but has pleaded guilty to manslaughter. His plea was not accepted and he is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Giving his closing speech to the jury this morning Mr Creed said Mr Murphy has accepted that he killed Ms Dunlea and they only have to decide if he is guilty of murder or manslaughter. He said Mr Murphy's intention can be seen through his actions, and asked the jury to consider what are the probable consequences of sticking a knife into somebody's neck.

Ms Dunlea died from a knife wound that penetrated her spinal canal and suffered five other stab wounds to the neck. Mr Murphy then set her house on fire.

Mr Creed went over Mr Murphy's statements to gardai in which he described how he and Olivia, his girlfriend of about four months, returned to her house after an evening drinking at the Rochestown Inn.

They argued because Olivia had called for a taxi driver who Mr Murphy knew Olivia had been intimate with in the past. In the house she undressed and told the accused to leave because the taxi driver was calling around. Mr Creed said Mr Murphy's defence is that he was so provoked by these words and actions that he suffered a sudden and total loss of self control. If the jury accepts that defence, Justice Patrick McCarthy told them they must find Mr Murphy guilty of manslaughter and not murder.

But counsel said the evidence shows that the accused was angry and decided to kill Ms Dunlea. Describing Mr Murphy as a jealous and possessive man, Mr Creed said: "He had enough. She was his and there was no question of her being anybody else's."

He said Mr Murphy, who told gardai that he self-harmed after a previous girlfriend cheated on him, "wasn't going to be cheated on again, he was going to kill her."

Counsel asked the jury to consider what Mr Murphy did after he stabbed Ms Dunlea. Instead of calling the gardai or an ambulance, he set fire to her home, drove he car to the Rochestown Inn where he collected his own car, threw her keys in a river and then went home. He said the accused man then engaged in a "complete sham", arriving back to the burning house where he pretended he didn't know what had happened and had to be held back as he tried to rush to the front door.

He further asked the jury to consider that if you loved somebody, perhaps even excessively, and had killed that person, would you not be so overcome with sorrow and remorse that you would call the gardai and ambulance and say: "I'm sorry. I lost control and I killed the woman I love. Please, come and revive her!" Instead, he said Mr Murphy set about covering up his actions and did his level best not to get caught.

Questioning the idea of a "sudden and total loss of self-control", Mr Creed pointed out that Mr Murphy was in the house for about 43 minutes, during which time Ms Dunlea met her death. "Provocation has to be sudden and complete," he said, "not a prolonged seething."

Speaking on Mr Murphy's behalf, Michael Delaney SC said that the jury cannot make their decision based on revulsion at how Mr Murphy killed Ms Dunlea, set fire to her house and then pretended he didn't know what had happened. The challenge for the jury, he said, is to put aside feelings and emotions and engage in a forensic analysis of the facts.

He said that if the jury is satisfied that Mr Murphy intended to kill Olivia Dunlea, they must then consider the defence of provocation, which he described as a concession to human weakness. Nothing could justify what happened to Ms Dunlea, he said, but the jury must consider Mr Murphy's background and how her actions would have affected him.

He first asked the jury if they had heard anything to suggest that Mr Murphy was a "bad man". One of his neighbours who had known Mr Murphy all his life, he reminded them, had described him as a "gentle giant". But Mr Murphy's early years were difficult.

He asked them to consider that he may have been laughed at and bullied on account of his weight and the fact that he was a "slow learner", something that people were less sensitive about years ago.

Mr Murphy went to what he described himself as a "slow learners school" where he told gardai he was abused by a teacher. Mr Delaney said these things can effect a person's coping skills later in life, their ability to take things on the chin. On the night of the stabbing, it started in the taxi when Ms Dunlea said she wanted the other taxi driver - the man she had been intimate with before.

Mr Delaney said Mr Murphy was besotted with Olivia but asked if she was tiring of his constant presence and attention and so she told him that this other man was calling to see her. Mr Delaney said Mr Murphy was not a good candidate for that kind of taunting and asked: "Was Olivia trying to pick a fight with Darren and by what means did she choose to pick a fight?"

He further asked: "Did she set out to goad him by reference to a man she knew he knew she had been intimate with before." He reminded the jury that Mr Murphy told gardai that he snapped and lost it.

Counsel disagreed with the claim that Mr Murphy's actions after the stabbing were a calculated attempt to cover his tracks. Describing his actions as "ham-fisted", he told the jury that he had left the knife in the sink for anyone to find, had failed to properly light a fire downstairs and left in such a hurry that he forgot to close the front door.

"Manslaughter," he concluded, "that is the verdict I urge you to bring."

Justice Patrick McCarthy will complete his charge to the jury of five women and seven men tomorrow.

Online Editors

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