Saturday 24 February 2018

Murder accused hit victim's son with a baseball bat, court hears

Lonn Paul

A woman on trial for the murder of a 66-year-old taxi man hit his son with a baseball bat shortly before his father was knocked down by her car, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

On the opening day of the trial of Claire Nolan, neighbour Josephine Cunningham told the court that Ms Nolan had been drinking in her house with her daughter on the night Michael Duffy was killed, and that she "probably wasn't in the right frame of mind" at the time.

Ms Cunningham told the court how Ms Nolan had thought Mr Duffy's son Francis had been trying to steal her new car, and became involved in a row with him, during which she hit him across the head.

Claire Nolan (23), of Sheephill Green in Blanchardstown, has denied murdering Michael Duffy at Well View Grove in Blanchardstown on January 26, 2008.

The retired taxi driver died after he was struck by a car in the driveway of his son's home.

Argument

Ms Nolan has admitted manslaughter, but the State has refused to accept the plea.

Prosecution counsel Patrick Gageby told the jury that it was the State's argument that "Mr Duffy's death was attributable... to the driving of the car by Claire Nolan".

"You will hear evidence, which I think will satisfy you, that the car was driven at some speed into the driveway, through the closed gates and right up to the house itself.

"And in doing that, Mr Duffy was hit by the car and crushed to death," Mr Gageby said.

The court would not be hearing evidence from Francis Duffy as he was "not the full shilling", Mr Gageby added.

Ms Cunningham, who lives next door to Francis Duffy, said she was upstairs when she heard her daughter shouting that someone was trying to steal Ms Nolan's Nissan Micra, which was in the driveway. Ms Nolan had bought the car that day.

"When Claire heard that she ran out and went and looked into the car and the radio was gone or something," Ms Cunningham said.

She described Ms Nolan as being angry. "I suppose she was annoyed, plus she was after having a few drinks so she would have been in a rage," she said.

She said she saw Francis Duffy in his garden talking on his mobile phone and that there was blood streaming down his face because the "outraged person" had "belted him" over the head with a bat. When asked who the outraged person was, she replied "Claire".

Ms Cunningham said she returned inside, but heard "smashing glass and the rev of a car" and on looking out the window saw the accused's car being reversed out of her driveway, crashing through the gates of Mr Duffy's house, and being driven up his driveway.

Ms Cunningham said she didn't know Michael Duffy had arrived on the scene until she saw him lying in the driveway next door, with his son standing over him.

Ms Cunningham described Ms Nolan as a calm person. "I knew Claire as a placid girl... you'd never think anything like this would happen."

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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