Sunday 22 September 2019

Murder accused phoned friend to say a girl he fought with died but he revived her, trial hears

Mother of three: Nicola Collins had been living in Cork in recent years
Mother of three: Nicola Collins had been living in Cork in recent years

Ralph Riegel

A FRIEND of murder accused Cathal O'Sullivan (45) said he received a series of early morning phone calls from the defendant who explained he just had a fight with a girl, that she had died but that he then successfully managed to revive her.

The revelation came as a Central Criminal Court also heard that the blood of mother of three Nicola Collins (38) was found all over the grey sports top of the defendant.

Ms Collins was found dead in a flat at Popham's Road, Farranree, Cork in the early hours of March 27 2017 with a total of 125 different cuts, bruises and lacerations discovered on her body.

She died from a serious head injury caused by blunt force trauma with two of her front teeth missing and her jaw fractured.

Cathal O’Sullivan pictured at Cork District Court. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited
Cathal O’Sullivan pictured at Cork District Court. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited

Paramedics and Gardaí found her naked body lying on the bedroom floor of the flat with her feet resting on the edge of the bed.

She was partly covered by a blood-stained towel.

Cathal O'Sullivan denies the murder of Ms Collins before the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork.

Ms Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of nine men and three women heard evidence from Matthew Twomey, a friend of O'Sullivan.

Mr Twomey said he had received a text and some phone calls from the defendant in the early hours of March 27 2017.

The Limerick-based electrician who knew the defendant from growing up together near Charleville said he had been out socialising the night before (March 26) and had consumed 12 pints and two cans, recalling very little of the subsequent phone conversations.

"Basically (Mr O'Sullivan said) that there was a girl there, there was a fight and she died. But that he resuscitated her and she was grand. He said she was OK."

"(He said) the girl was dead but he revived her and she was OK."

Mr Twomey said he had great difficulty in recalling precisely what was said in the phone calls, one of which lasted for almost 30 minutes.

"I can't remember at this moment," he said.

Mr Twomey acknowledged that he told Gardaí a lot of the conversation was "a bit of a blur."

"It was the early hours of the morning. I just wanted to go back to sleep to be honest," he said.

Mr Twomey said he had work the following morning, had drink taken and wasn't paying attention to what O'Sullivan was saying to him.

"He said he revived her and she was grand."

In cross-examination with defence counsel Colman Cody SC, Mr Twomey said he could not remember any conversation about an ambulance or whether the defendant had rang him for advice because he was concerned about Ms Collins vomiting blood.

"It is possible but I cannot remember. I was in Limerick city."

Forensic Science Ireland expert Sara Fleming examined the flat on March 28 and later conducted detailed tests on a number of samples taken from the premises.

She focused on blood spatters and stains found in both the bedroom and bathroom of the flat.

Ms Fleming said tests confirmed the spatters involved the blood of Ms Collins.

"It would indicate Nicola Collins was assaulted while in close proximity to the wall of the bathroom," she said.

Similarly, she said blood spatters on the bedroom wall, near a window, indicated the young mother was in close proximity to that wall when assaulted.

Tests were also conducted on a grey sports top belonging to the defendant.

"There was blood staining on the grey top including blood stains on the right sleeve," she said.

Blood stains were found on the sleeve, cuff, elbow and back of the garment.

"There were stains on most aspects of this garment," she said.

Tests indicated the stains matched the DNA profile of Ms Collins.

Ms Fleming said the tests from the blood samples in the bedroom and bathroom indicated a one to one thousand million chance of the blood being from someone other than the deceased.

Blood stains found on the jeans of the defendant transpired to be his own blood.

Ms Fleming said a large quantity of blood staining was found on the bed in the flat including its mattress and headboard.

The trial has already heard evidence that, in a 999 call, the defendant told an emergency controller: "Jesus Christ, I am trying to bring my girlfriend back to life."

The defendant also initially refused to leave the bedroom while paramedics worked on Ms Collins as he said he was "used to seeing dead people."

The defendant insisted to emergency services he had tried to resuscitate his girlfriend after waking in the night to hear her gurgling.

Prosecutor Tom Creed SC told the trial it was the State case that the defendant beat Ms Collins to death.

Ms Collins arrived at the flat by taxi on March 23 - and was last caught by CCTV footage entering the flat at 11.24am on March 24.

Mr O'Sullivan left the flat on March 24, 25 and 26 - on one occasion buy alcohol.

A post mortem found that the Kerry-born mother had died from a serious head injury caused by blunt force trauma.

However, she had also sustained a broken jaw, had two missing front teeth and had bruises to her arms, face, lips, neck, abdomen and breast.

There were also signs of asphyxia.

Gardaí also found a clump of blonde hair on a bedroom dresser.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster told the trial Ms Collins was found with a total of 125 different cuts, bruises and lacerations.

She had cuts and bruises to virtually every part of her body.

Some of the bruises and abrasions were found in clusters.

Dr Bolster said the cause of death was a serious head injury caused by blunt force trauma.

A 117g clot was found as a result of a subdural haematoma suffered by Ms Collins.

"Any clot of 100g and over is of significance," Dr Bolster said.

"It would exert a significant pressure effect on the brain," she explained.

The trial also heard the flat was littered with empty alcohol cans and bottles.

The trial continues.

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