Saturday 24 March 2018

Murder accused 'kicked former rugby captain (62) in the head', trial told

Gardai at the scene in Terenure, Dublin; Inset: Cathal Sweeney in his rugby days
Gardai at the scene in Terenure, Dublin; Inset: Cathal Sweeney in his rugby days

Natasha Reid

A witness has told a murder trial that he went for hypnosis to try to remember how a fatal assault on a rugby captain began in his home while they were watching a match.

However, Colm Campbell says he still can’t remember what ‘kicked off’ an assault by 34-year-old Gary Walsh on their 62-year-old friend, Cathal Sweeney.

Mr Walsh with an address at The Watercourse, Orwell Park, Templeogue, in Dublin is accused of murdering Mr Sweeney on February 8 2014.

The father-of-one has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter at a flat in Ashdale Gardens, Terenure in Dublin. He went on trial at the Central Criminal Court on Monday.

Mr Campbell testified on Tuesday that he was an alcoholic and that both the accused and the deceased had drink problems. He said that both men were at this flat that afternoon to have a few drinks and watch Ireland play Wales in rugby.

“The next thing I remember was noise coming from the bedroom,” he said. “There was an argument ensuing between Mr Walsh and Mr Sweeney. I heard what I believed were slaps or thumps and shouting.”

He said he didn’t do or say anything at that point.

“Gary came out of the room, sat down, probably had another drink, smoke and then went back into the bedroom,” he continued. “I heard that noise starting off again.”

He said that he was concerned and went in.

“I saw Cathal Sweeney sitting on the bed with his hands covering his face,” he said. “I noticed there was blood coming down his face and through his fingers. There was a fair amount of blood.”

He said he tried to intervene but was not that strong and was unsteady on his legs.

“I shouted for Mr Walsh to stop, which he did. I got him back into the sitting room,” he said.

He was asked if anything was being said in the bedroom.

“I believe I heard Gary demanding money from Mr Sweeney,” he replied.

He said he had seen the accused punching Mr Sweeney in the head.

“I also saw what I believe, he was using his elbows, coming down on the torso,” he continued. “I then saw Mr Walsh taking Cathal Sweeney by the ankles and pulling him off the bed. He kicked him in the head.”

He said that Mr Sweeney was badly injured and that Mr Walsh was calling him names.

He said he coaxed Mr Walsh back into the living room but that they later became concerned when they heard no sound coming from the bedroom.

“We entered into the bedroom and Cathal was lying motionless,” he said, describing him as immobile, unconscious, with his face swollen, bruised and cut.

“I think I recall Gary saying to me: ‘God, I think he’s dead’,” he added, recalling that the accused then called the emergency services.

He was asked if he knew how blood had got on the couch in the living room.

“No. It has been suggested to me that that’s where the initial assault started, but I swear to God I’ve no recollection of that,” he replied.

He said he could have fallen asleep or have been in a blackout.

“I tried to get hypnosis and everything like that to see if I could get any recollection of what happened, what kicked it off, what started it, because I don’t remember,” he said.

Brendan Grehan SC, defending, has now begun cross examining the witness. He will continue with his cross examination this (Wednesday) morning before Mr Justice Michael Moriarty and a jury of six women and six men.

Online Editors

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