Wednesday 24 January 2018

Murder accused Mark Nash's 'free-flowing' statement on how he stabbed two women in their sleep - trial

On trial: Mark Nash (Pic: Courtpix)
On trial: Mark Nash (Pic: Courtpix)

Alison O'Riordan

A jury has heard that a man on trial for a 1997 double murder gave a statement to gardai where he admitted stabbing two women after breaking in to a house in Grangegorman.

Detective Garda Gerard Dillon, now retired who was attached to Mill Street Garda Station in Galway on the evening of August 16 1997, today read a written statement given by the accused Mark Nash in Galway on August 17 1997, in which he wished to volunteer information in relation to a double murder he "committed in Dublin five months ago."

Mark Nash who had last addresses at Prussia Street and Clonliffe Road in Dublin has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the double murder of Sylvia Shields (59) and Mary Callanan (61), who lived in sheltered accommodation, in a house attached to St Brendan’s Psychiatric Hospital in Grangegorman Dublin 7 between March 6 and March 7, 1997.

Today in court Mr Dillon began reading the statement made on August 17 in 1997.

“I now wish to volunteer information in relation to a double murder I committed in Dublin five months ago, I was coming from the GPO to Stoneybatter, I had been at a fund raising event for charity held in the GPO" read Mr Dillon.

The court heard Mr Nash said he left the GPO on O'Connell Street around 10.30pm and walked along the quays where he had a few drinks in a club known as the Ormond Centre.

At 11.30pm upon leaving the club, he said he took a wrong turn and ended up at Orchard View where he came to a two storey house.

“I cannot explain my mind at time, but everything seemed to turn black, I lost control and decided to break into a house, I went in a side entrance to the back of house" read Mr Dillon.

Mark Nash
Mark Nash

The court heard how Mark Nash said he broke the bottom right hand frame of a window at Orchard View to get into the house and put a spare pair of socks he had in his pocket on his hands.

Reading the statement, the jury heard how Mark Nash said he picked up a red handled bread knife in the kitchen before he went upstairs.

The court heard how in the first room, there was a "large lady" in her "mid fifties" asleep, lying on her back, in a single bed and Mark Nash said he pulled the duvet down to her waist and stabbed her in the chest, through her night dress.

"I don’t know how many times, it was a frenzy attack, I cut her throat, I think just once" read Mr Dillon.

Upon going into the second bedroom, Mr Dillon read how Mark Nash said he saw a lady of a "slim build" getting out of a double bed which was up against a wall and he walked to the foot of the bed and stabbed her in the chest. "I don’t know how many times, she fell forward, I may have cut her throat, I cant remember" read Mr Dillon.

In the third bedroom, there was a woman asleep in a single bed with black ear phones on and fully covered with bed clothes.

Mr Dillon read that Mark Nash said he still had the knife in his hand but he regained his self control and left the room.

Mr Dillon read to the court how Mark Nash said he took the socks off his hands and dropped them with the knife at the bottom of the stairs.

Mark Nash said he left the house by the front door and as he was leaving he said he saw a man hiding behind a pillar in the drive way of the house, directly across the road.

Mr Dillon read how Mr Nash said he went back to his flat between 12.30am and 1am, showered and went to bed and "spent the night crying."

He was sharing a flat with his girlfriend Lucy Porter at the time who was working in Eddie Rocket's.

All his clothes from the night including his black trousers  were discarded in a bin collection except for a black velvet jacket, which was later handed into the guards.

The court heard how a couple of days later he read about the murders in the newspapers but told the guards on August 17 1997, "he didn't

discuss with anyone until this day."

The jury of six men and five women 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 he allegedly said at the time he had murdered the two women and the second was a sketch of the outside of the house at Orchard View indicating the area where a person was hiding behind pillars, across the road.

“A rough sketch of the house where I killed the two ladies” was written at the top of one of the pages in Mark Nash's handwriting at the time.

Mr Brendan Grehan SC acting for the State asked Mr Dillon, if there was any prompting at the time of the statement being made, to which Mr Dillon replied, "it was a free flowing statement by Mark Nash, he cried on two occasions."

"Were any questions asked to Mr Nash" asked Mr Grehan.

"Just to clear up any ambiguities" replied Mr Dillon.

Mr Dillon was cross examined by Mr Hugh Harnett SC acting for the accused, concerning what he meant by the words "free flowing."

"We attended at 1.25pm and there was six pages of a statement written and a sketch drawn before 3.10pm" replied Mr Dillon.

Concerning the formal language of the statement, Mr Hartnett suggests to Mr Dillon that "prompts were made” on the day in question, to which Mr Dillon replied "I don’t agree."

"Did you ask did the rooms have wardrobes, did you ask were the victims wearing night gowns?" asks Mr Hartnett.

"I may have asked whether they wore night dresses. Mark Nash wanted to get this off his chest and I was in the room to take this off him" replied Mr Dillon.

The court also heard how Mr Dillon also gave evidence about speaking to Mark Nash on the way to the cell in the Galway garda station on August 17 1997.

Mr Dillon described how Mr Nash looked for some paper and a pen as he wanted to write a letter to his girlfriend Sarah Jane Doyle.

At 1.15pm that day, Mr Nash handed Mr Dillon the letter and Mr Dillon cautioned him.

The letter addressed to Sarah Jane Doyle was today  presented to Mr Dillon in court where he referred to excerpts from the lengthy letter running over three pages.

In the opening lines, Mr Nash says: "I  tried to die before my arrest by throwing myself at a van and as I’m writing this now I didn't succeed."

The letter contained an excerpt which described Mark Nash's "violent tendencies" which he has "had for a long time now, episodes where I

lose all self-control."

Mr Grehan read "it happened before in or near Prussia Street but you will read all about it no doubt.”

The letter to Sarah Jane Doyle continues: “I’m telling the full truth, I want it in the open" and was at the time signed by the accused Mark

Nash at 1.50pm on Sunday August 17 1997.

The trial continues.

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