Tuesday 24 October 2017

Man who acted as lookout during killing of dad of eight found guilty of manslaughter

Ross Allen, a father of two, from Clara, Co Offaly was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter
Ross Allen, a father of two, from Clara, Co Offaly was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter

Eoin Reynolds

A lookout man has been convicted of manslaughter for his role in the vicious slaying of a dad of eight who lived alone on a remote bog lane.

Ross Allen (25) with an address in Carrickmines, Co Dublin, had denied the murder charge.

At 2.19pm today, the five women and six men of the jury at the Central Criminal Court found him not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter by a unanimous verdict.

Christy Daly (47) was beaten and shot by two Dublin gang members while Mr Allen acted as lookout on December 29, 2013 at Bog Lane, Kilbride, Clara, Co Offaly. The gang believed that Mr Daly had taken a e30,000 bag of drugs that Allen had hidden near his caravan.

When charging the jury Justice Patrick McCarthy told them that the case against Mr Allen was "complex". He told them a person could be guilty of a crime even if they are not present when the deed is carried out, if they are "part of the common design or purpose".

"What was the state of mind of the accused person?" he said. "That is what is at issue in this case."

The judge told them the State's case was based mainly on statements given by Mr Allen while in custody in February 2014.

In those statements gardai asked him several times what his intentions were and he said he thought they were going to give Mr Daly "a few clouts" and "give him a beating".

The Judge said that if a person intended "merely to cause injury that is less than serious" but the victim dies then the attacker is guilty of manslaughter and not murder.

"The crux of the case is the state of mind of the accused," he repeated.

He told the jury to look at Mr Allen and consider his background, his strengths and weaknesses and the type of person he is, when considering his state of mind.

The jury took almost nine hours to come to a unanimous decision.

When the verdict was revealed Justice McCarthy remanded Mr Allen in custody and adjourned sentencing until July 18.

Counsel for the prosecution Patrick Marrinan SC said time would be needed to draw up a victim impact statement on behalf of Mr Daly's family.

Mr Allen retrieved a bag of belongings and shook hands with his legal team before prison officers led him away from court.

Justice McCarthy told the eleven jurors that they are exempt from serving for ten years and thanked them for their patience through the five-week trial.

The trial heard that Ross Allen revealed his part in the killing during garda interviews in February 2014 when he waived his right to silence. He told gardai that he was addicted to cannabis and had gotten into debt to a local drug dealer after losing his job.

To pay off his debt he would do odd-jobs like hide drugs and weapons around the countryside or move stolen cars from place to place.

In December he hid a bag of drugs, worth about e30,000, on Bog Lane but when he went to retrieve it, it had disappeared. He panicked, telling gardai he thought he was "fucked". He said he was afraid of the drug owner and that he thought he might kill him.

When he reported the missing stash it was assumed that Christy Daly was responsible. He was the only person living on the lane.

Outlining Allen's involvement in what happened next, Mr Marrinan said he was told to drive a Volvo car to a location just outside Clara. The Volvo was an "offside car" that was used for criminal activity. It would later be used to take the gang to Mr Daly's caravan.

Having left the car at the planned location Allen went to a house in Esker Hills where two Dublin gang members and the owner of the cannabis discussed what to do.

Mr Allen was given money and told to go to Tesco in Tullamore to buy tracksuits and tights.

When he returned the men put on gloves, the newly purchased tracksuits and put the tights on top of their heads, ready to pull down over their faces. One of them had a semi-automatic machine gun, the weapon that would later be used to shoot Mr Daly. They left their mobile phones behind and drove to the accused's apartment where he picked up a hammer and a torch.

When asked by gardai if the hammer was to be used on Christy Daly he said it would be, if necessary. They then traveled to another site where Mr Allen retrieved a shotgun and cartridges that he had hidden behind a farm gate.

He handed the gun to one of the Dublin men sitting in the back of the Volvo car and saw him load it.

Having kitted themselves out they traveled to the remote lane that leads into the bog at Kilbride in Clara where Mr Daly lived and the drugs had last been seen. Allen was told to stand at the gate and act as lookout while the two Dublin men and the driver of the car continued on. Mr Allen waited with the tights on top of his head rather than over his face. When gardai asked him what he would have done if someone arrived he said he wasn't really sure. They hadn't discussed that. After a few minutes he heard two shots from the direction of the caravan and presumed they were fired as a warning to Mr Daly. What actually happened to Christy Daly was revealed by state pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy. She told the trial that Mr Daly suffered blunt force trauma to the face and head. His attackers knocked out five of his front teeth and broke his nose before using a semi-automatic machine gun to shoot him nine times. Most of the bullets hit him in the legs, severing arteries and smashing bones. It was these injuries that caused his death, she said.

After the assault the two Dublin men and the driver picked Mr Allen up and sped back towards Clara. Witness Niamh Heffernan, who lived at the meeting house in Esker Hills, told the court the two Dublin men stayed up until 5am doing cocaine in the living room.

The next day Mr Allen was told to burn out the Volvo car and he did so. He told gardai that he thought this was a strange request because at that time he did not know that Mr Daly was dead.

During the interviews he was asked several times what he thought they intended to do when confronting Mr Daly. He said he thought they would give him "a few clouts" or a "beating" but that he had no idea how far the Dublin men were going to take it. He told gardai he was sick when he found out and that it gave him trouble sleeping.

After he had revealed his role he told gardai that it felt like a weight had been lifted off him. He will return to court on July 18 for a sentencing hearing.

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