Friday 24 November 2017

Mark Nash 'blamed media reports, teletext and radio accounts for his knowledge of 1997 double murder', court hears

Mark Nash
Mark Nash

Alison O'Riordan

A jury has been read a letter of retraction written by a man who previously gave gardai a statement admitting to the murder of two women in Grangegorman in 1997.

Mark Nash (42) who has last addresses at Prussia Street and Clonliffe Road in Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the murder of Sylvia Shields (60) and Mary Callanan (61) between March 6 and March 7, 1997.

On Wednesday of this week, a jury of six men and five women heard that Mark Nash gave a statement to gardai in Mill Street Garda Station in Galway on August 16, 1997 where he wished to volunteer information in relation to a double murder he "committed in Dublin five months ago."

Today James McHugh, former Assistant Commissioner of An Garda Siochana, with responsibility for the South East region in August and September 1997, read an undated letter of retraction from Mark Nash, blaming "media reports, teletext and radio" accounts for his knowledge of the 1997 double murder of two women in a house in Grangegorman.

In the letter, read to the court today, Mr Nash stated he had nothing to do with the murders in Grangegorman and would like his statement withdrawn" calling them the "bamblings of a very unsteady man" who "would have taken the rap for killing the pope if he had the knowledge."

On September 1 1997, Mr McHugh who was conducting an inquiry into the Grangegorman killings, received a four page written document from Mark Nash's solicitor Peter Allen, on behalf of Mark Nash.

Mr McHugh read the statement to the court today, which was written by the accused Mark Nash beginning: “I wish to apologise to gardai in the first instance for wasting police time, as you know on August 16 I made a statement claiming responsibility for the murders in Grangegorman some months ago. I wish to withdraw any and all statements and diagrams relating to Grangegorman."

Reading the statement, Mr McHugh told the court Mr Nash said that when he made his statement to the gardai in Galway, he was "in serious mental anguish" and "in part was prompted by gardai in relation to certain aspects of the murders."

“I was in the least shocked that my statement was taken seriously but I understand it has to be taken into account" continued reading Mr McHugh.

Mr McHugh read from the statement to the court, how Mark Nash's explanation into the knowledge of the Grangegorman crimes were based on "media reports, teletext and radio" accounts which gave considerable information on the crimes which he said at the time he took an interest in as "he was living in the area."

The court also heard from the statement that the accused Mr Nash was working as an advertising executive at the time, which aided his knowledge of the event.

"I could hardly fail but to take notice" read Mr McHugh from Mark Nash's statement.

Mr McHugh read from the statement how Mr Nash also recalled overhearing "two gardai openly talking about the killings" in Prussia Street.

"I heard a new television had been left untouched, they even went so far as to discuss the brand and I overheard their conversation clearly" read Mr McHugh.

On Wednesday, the jury were given two copies of sketches drawn by the accused on August 17 1997, the first was of the inside of the house, detailing the rooms at Orchard View where Mark Nash said at the time he had murdered the two women.

In explaining Mark Nash's knowledge of the inside of the house at Orchard View in Grangegorman, Mr McHugh read: “As to the lay out of the house, I viewed many properties which were in the Grangegorman area, some which were end terraced areas, so I drew the layout to go with what I saw in houses elsewhere" read Mr McHugh.

Continuing to read Mr McHugh said: "As with the house itself, three days after the killings, I got a taxi to work and the taxi man drove past where the killing had taken place. I recall he slowed down to 2/3 miles per hour and pointed to where the women were killed and I took a good look at house including the entrances and the side path to the house. The taxi man gave his opinion as to what happened."

Still reading the statement, Mr McHugh also said Mr Nash asked for his solicitor on three occasions while in Mill Street Station in Galway but was told one was not available and the gardai told him "it was ok to continue."

The court also heard how Mark Nash complied a list of alleged leading questions asked by the gardai in Galway to Mark Nash, received weeks later by Mr McHugh.

On September 8 1997, Mr McHugh, Superintendent Donnellan and solicitor Peter Allen met Mark Nash in the medical unit of Mountjoy Prison.

Reading from a memo taken at the time, Mr McHugh recounted the types of allegedly "prompting" questions asked of Mark Nash in Galway.

"I was asked was any of the women wearing anything over their ears?

Again they asked the question. I said again not to my knowledge, then I was told my answers were wrong and one was wearing something on her ears."

"I was asked did I know a knife was left protruding from one of the woman's vagina's. I said no."

“I was then asked were any of the women unusually large. I said I do not recall" read Mr McHugh.

The court were also read a letter send to Sarah Jane Doyle by the accused following her serious assault by Mark Nash in Roscommon on August 16 in 1997.

The first letter was attached to a second envelope which contained £150, and was addressed to the "head injuries" in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.

Mr McHugh read from the letter where Mark Nash confessed his love for Ms Doyle saying: "I went mad. This is the second time I've gone this way and it lead to the same thing before, I'm insane and I don’t deserve to live, I'm so sorry to all of you and by the time this reaches you I will be dead.”

“I fucking flipped, I cant think, Ive gone mad and I cant help myself, who would have thought it could have ever possibly gone this way.

Sorry Sarah I shouldn't say it but I love you, good bye Mark."

In Mountjoy Prison on September 8, Mr McHugh recounted how Mark Nash became emotional and started to weep when the letter was read to him, saying "I was in a state of duress and guilt ridden."

"You think you are sitting here looking at a guilty man, you have two over zealous guards in Galway" read Mr McHugh.

"The way I was feeling guilty about what I had done in Roscommon and therefore I took the guilt on about Grangegorman. Listen carefully I did not commit the murders in Grangegorman, sorry they aren't the answers you were looking for" continued reading Mr McHugh.

The trial continues on Tuesday morning at 11am.

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