Tuesday 24 October 2017

Murder accused 'lost it' and wanted to frighten two attackers

Donal Colgan (64), of Killarney Street, Dublin 1, arrives at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin. Pic Collins Courts.
Donal Colgan (64), of Killarney Street, Dublin 1, arrives at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin. Pic Collins Courts.

Eoin Reynolds

A murder accused who stabbed a man four times during a row outside a chip shop said he only wanted to frighten the deceased who he claimed had attacked him first.

Donal Colgan (65), of Killarney Court, Killarney St, Dublin 1 has pleaded not guilty to the murder of David Sheridan (45), outside Luigi's chip shop on the Capital's North Strand Road on August 17, 2014.

The accused today gave evidence at the Central Criminal Court, telling defence counsel Patrick Marrinan SC that he "lost it" after being attacked by Mr Sheridan and another man Gary Kinlan. He said he wanted to frighten them and picked up the first weapon he could find.

Going into his background, he said he had a difficult childhood. He disliked school after being beaten by the Christian Brothers and his father was a heavy drinker.

He left Ireland aged 15 to live in London, but could not find work and ended up on the streets. Some older men found him and brought him to a British Army barracks.

He enlisted and ended up doing tours of Northern Ireland and Libya, where he was injured in an explosion. He returned to Ireland, got married and had four children, one of whom has since died. His marriage broke up and he has been taking pills for depression ever since. He said he regularly suffers panic attacks.

David Sheridan
David Sheridan

On August 17, 2014, the self-described loner said he was on his way home after drinking about ten pints of cider in the Sunset House when he decided to go to Luigi's for a bag of chips.

Inside the chip shop he said there were "angry words" between some of the younger customers and he told one of them to go home because he had drunk too much. He said Mr Sheridan, who was with another man named Gary Kinlan, then said something so he turned and said: "Leave it out you lads, there is after being enough trouble today."

He said he thought that was the end of it but as he walked out of the shop minutes later, bag of chips in hand, Mr Kinlan said to him: "Who are you looking at?" He replied: "What's your problem?" or "What's up with you?"

Mr Colgan said Mr Kinlan then punched him five or six times in the face before David Sheridan emerged from the chip shop and kicked him a number of times. He said he fell to the ground when Mr Kinlan hit him with a bag of cans.

When Mr Colgan got away he said he was "raging". "I lost everything and I felt humiliated," he said. "Here I am, 60 odd years of age, getting attacked by two fellas." He said he had tried to defend himself but his attackers were too young and fast for him. "I couldn't even beat one of them, never mind two," he said.

He went home, thinking about what had happened, and when he got home he looked for a weapon. "If there had been a hurley stick there I would have picked it up," he said. Instead, he saw a knife and picked that up.

He told Mr Marrinan that he wanted to send a message that "you won't do this to me. I live here and I have to walk these streets." He said he wanted to frighten them.

As he approached the chip shop he said he began to calm down and asked himself "what am I doing?" But when he arrived at Luigi's he said Mr Sheridan attacked him again and he hit out with the knife.

"I don't remember much of what happened after that," he said. Mr Colgan agreed that he returned home, went to bed and got up the next morning at 6am to go to work.

He next heard about the stabbing on the one o'clock news and that evening he went back to the Sunset House, where people were talking about the stabbing. "I did not think I was after doing much damage," he said, but as the day went on "slowly it came back to me about the fight and the argument at Luigi's."

He was arrested the following morning on his way to work. He said he is "disgusted" with what happened. "That was never my intention to do that," he said, adding that he has thought of the stabbing every day.

Speaking to prosecution counsel Paul Burns SC, he agreed that he had lied to gardai when they arrested him, telling them he had nothing to do with the stabbing and that he had not gone to Luigi's.

He also agreed that CCTV footage from inside Luigi's appeared to show Mr Sheridan backing away moments before the knife attack. "It looks like that alright," he replied.

Mr Burns said that the accused is seen following Mr Sheridan, chasing him around a car parked in front of the chipper. Mr Colgan replied: "It looks like that."

He said that he never intended to use the knife, adding: "All I knew was I just wanted to frighten him off."

The trial continues tomorrow in front of Justice Carmel Stewart at and a jury of nine men and three women.

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