Man stabbed pal to death in row over prank calls
A 36-year-old man has been found guilty of the man-slaughter of his friend and of seriously injuring another man after stabbing them both in their hearts.
Martin Toland of Walkinstown Park pleaded not guilty to murdering 28-year-old Alan Nolan at Cedar Brook Walk, Ballyfermot, Dublin, on September 8, 2007. He also pleaded not guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to James Carroll (now 32) on the same occasion.
The defendant claimed he was acting in self-defence.
Alan Nolan's mother, Marian Nolan, spoke outside court on behalf of her family and the Carroll family.
"I'd just like to say how saddened we are that Alan isn't with us today. But we're also very happy that James Carroll did survive and is here," she said.
"I just can't express the loss of Alan to us all, as a child, as a brother and as a friend."
Toland had told the court he was in fear for his life because, missing part of a lung and being on a blood thinner, he knew he could die from one bang to the head.
He said Mr Nolan produced a knife and this fear increased.
The Central Criminal Court trial heard that all three men spent the night of September 7 playing games and drinking in Mr Nolan's apartment.
Mr Nolan received more than a dozen prank phone calls after 5am. Toland said that the victim wondered if the calls might be from the same person who had been playing pranks on his sister.
Toland told gardai that Mr Nolan asked him if his sister might be behind them because they had fallen out. Toland said he didn't think so.
He said that he and Mr Nolan had a punch-up at one stage but that Mr Carroll had broken it up.
He said, however, that Mr Nolan became aggressive again, blaming Toland's sister for the phone calls. He claimed that Mr Nolan then produced a knife and came toward him.
Toland said he managed to get the knife from him and recalled wounding Mr Nolan with the knife once on the landing, but said he could not remember inflicting any other wounds. He said they must have happened as the three tumbled down the stairs together.
He said he immediately rang an ambulance.
However, the jury heard a different account of the stabbings from Mr Carroll, who was saved by emergency surgery.
He said that when he first saw the defendant with the knife, Mr Nolan was asking him to get Toland out of the house.
He said he ushered Toland down the stairs. He said Toland was half way out the front door when Mr Nolan shouted something from the stairs, which sent Toland into a fit of rage. He said Toland stabbed him three times in an effort to get to Mr Nolan.
Mr Carroll agreed that he had actually made the hang-up calls to Mr Nolan that morning.
Martin Toland was originally tried in 2010, found guilty of both counts and sentenced to life in prison. However, the Court of Criminal Appeal ordered a retrial.
Toland was remanded in custody for sentencing on June 11.