Tuesday 20 February 2018

Murder accused 'off her head on cocaine'

Friend had no reason to kill man, witness tells court

Lonan Paul

A friend of a woman on trial for the murder of a 66-year-old man has told the Central Criminal Court that the accused had "no motive" and "wouldn't have done it on purpose", but admitted she was "off her head on cocaine".

Giving evidence via video-link from Australia, Maria Cunningham-Dutton said the accused, Claire Nolan, was "off her head on cocaine" at the time of the incident in which Michael Duffy died.

The witness said Ms Nolan was "in such a rage" on the night in question because the deceased's son had tried to break into her new car.

Ms Nolan (23), of Sheephill Green, Blanchardstown, Dublin, denies murdering Mr Duffy in the driveway of his son's home at Well View Grove, Blanchardstown, on January 26, 2008.

She has admitted to the taxi-driver's manslaughter, but the prosecution has refused to accept the plea and is arguing that Ms Nolan murdered Mr Duffy by driving her car at speed towards him and crushing him to death.

"She didn't mean to do it I know she didn't. Anyone can see there's no motive for this . . . she wouldn't have done it on purpose . . . there was just too much drink and drugs."

Ms Cunningham-Dutton told the jury: "I'm not making any excuses because what happened shouldn't have happened."

The 22-year-old witness described how she spent Friday, January 25, with Ms Nolan, driving her new Nissan Micra car and taking cocaine and sleeping tablets.

They went back to her mother's house at Well View Grove, where they were joined by Ms Cunningham-Dutton's boy-friend at the time, and another friend.

They spent the evening drinking wine and eating pizza before the witness said she opened her front door and saw her neighbour and son of the deceased, Francis Duffy, trying to break into Ms Nolan's car which was parked in the drive.

"It wouldn't be unusual behaviour out of Fran Duffy . . . we've always had a lot of trouble from him as a neighbour," she told the jury.

Francis Duffy, who was 40 at the time of the incident, was described by another witness as " a bit of a fruitcake" and " not the full shilling".


Ms Cunningham-Dutton said everyone ran into the garden, shouting at Francis Duffy and demanding to know why he had tried to break into the car. She said she then saw Francis Duffy hit Ms Nolan.

Yesterday, the court also heard that the accused was seen hitting Francis Duffy over the head with a baseball bat.

Ms Cunningham-Dutton said the whole incident was "like a blur" to her because of the wine and cocaine she had taken, but she told the court how she remembered standing in a neighbour's garden and seeing the accused's car driving at speed into Francis Duffy's driveway.

"Fran must have rang his dad and his dad came up because of all the fighting . . . I didn't even know he was there until I saw his dead body on the ground," she said.

"I actually didn't see Michael Duffy dying because of Claire squashing him against the wall . . . everything happened so fast. I ran over to the garden and he was lying on the ground so I just assumed," she said.

Another witness told the trial how she saw a Nissan Micra driving straight into Francis Duffy's house and heard it crashing through the gates.

The deceased's son, Michael Duffy Jnr, also took the witness stand and told the jury that his father had spent the day visiting friends in Cavan.

He said he visited the scene on the day following his father's death and noticed that the gates of his brother's house were "twisted and warped".

The trial continues today.

Irish Independent

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