Wednesday 23 October 2019

Prosecution closes its case in trial of man accused of murdering 90-year-old retired farmer

Victim Paddy Lyons was found dead in his own home. Photo: Provision
Victim Paddy Lyons was found dead in his own home. Photo: Provision

Alison O’Riordan

The prosecution has closed its case in the trial of a man accused of murdering a 90-year-old retired farmer in his home.

Ross Outram (28), of Ferryland, Waterford Road, Clonmel in Co Tipperary, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Paddy Lyons at Loughleagh, Ballysaggart, Lismore, Co Waterford, at a time unknown between February 23 and 26, 2017.

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, was today tendered by the prosecution at the request of the defence in the Central Criminal Court trial of Mr Outram.

The pathologist gave evidence last Tuesday that Mr Lyons suffered multiple blows to his head and neck from a blunt weapon, before his blood-smeared body was found slumped in his armchair at his home.

Ross Outram. Photo: Cork Courts
Ross Outram. Photo: Cork Courts

Mr Lyons’ cause of death was blunt force trauma to his body with a traumatic brain injury and shock due to fractures of his hip joint, jawbone and ribs, Dr Bolster outlined to the jury last week. 

Under further cross examination today by Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, Dr Bolster said it was not an “unreasonable conclusion” that Mr Lyons would have suffered from concussion after sustaining head injuries following the altercation.

Dr Bolster said this was not a trivial head injury as there were multiple areas of haemorrhage to Mr Lyons’ head as well as “shearing” of his nerve fibres which implied that sufficient force had been used to disrupt those fibres. “There would have been some alteration in his levels of consciousness,” she added.

Mr O’Higgins put it to Dr Bolster that she could not tell whether or not Mr Lyons had suffered concussion.

“In my opinion he almost certainly did”, replied the witness, adding that significant force had been transmitted to Mr Lyons’ brain.

Dr Bolster commented that the deceased would at least have wiped the blood from his face if he was perfectly healthy after suffering the head injuries.

The witness agreed with counsel that she could not tell what symptoms Mr Lyons would have suffered after sustaining the head injuries but stated that there would have been “some alteration” in his brain function.

Mr O’Higgins asked Dr Bolster if it was reasonable that Mr Lyons would not have been concussed. “I can say in my opinion that there would be some effects from head trauma,” she replied.

The barrister further put it to the witness that while she was saying to the jury that it was reasonably possible that there could have been some effects, she was not excluding the possibility that there might not have been.

“Based on an examination of his injuries and the scene, there would have been some effects,” Dr Bolster indicated, adding that she could not say what these effects were.

In conclusion, Dr Bolster said it was “not impossible” that Mr Lyons would have had no symptoms following the assault. However, she felt that the deceased would have suffered “some effects” because of the evidence concerning his significant brain trauma and the fact that there was no evidence of him having wiped his face.

Mr O’Higgins put it to the witness that she was wrong and there was “insufficient material” to form any view "good, bad or indifferent" concerning concussion in this case. “I don’t think I’m wrong,” she said.

The prosecution has now closed its case and the trial will continue tomorrow before Mr Justice Paul Coffey and a jury of eight men and four women.

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