Monday 11 December 2017

Retired garda 'cannot remember seeing wound on face of accused Mark Nash' - murder trial of two women

Mark Nash
Mark Nash

Alison O'Riordan

A member in charge from a police station in Galway, in the trial of a man accused of murdering two women in sheltered accommodation in Grangegorman in Dublin, 18 years ago, has said he cannot remember seeing a wound on the face of the accused or a laceration to his head, or hearing of an inquiry at the time.

Sergeant Kevin Duffy, now a retired member of An Garda Siochana was giving evidence in the trial of Mark Nash, who is accused of murdering two women in sheltered accommodation in Grangegorman in Dublin, 18 years ago.

Mark Nash (42) who has last addresses at Prussia Street and Clonliffe Road in Dublin, has pleaded not (NOT) guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the murder of Sylvia Shields (60) and Mary Callanan (61) between March 6 and March 7, 1997.

Mr Duffy was on duty at Mill Street Garda Station in Galway from 2pm on the afternoon of August 16 1997, when the accused Mark Nash was arrested at Two Mile Ditch, on the Tuam Road in Galway for the serious assault of a Sarah Jane Doyle in Roscommon.

The court heard today how Mr Duffy cannot remember seeing a wound on the face of Mark Nash, a laceration to his head or hearing of an inquiry at the time by Assistant Commissioner Jim McHugh,

Under cross examination from Mr Hugh Hartnett SC for the accused, Mr Duffy told the court how his role of member in charge on the day involved the overseeing as well as having various functions in the detention of the accused Mark Nash.

“You were there not as an investigator, but as a protector of the rights of the detained person?" asked Mr Hartnett.

“Yes I was there to protect his rights,” replied Mr Duffy.

"In particular you were obliged to note any injuries he might have,” asked Mr Hartnett.

“Yes, this is one of things I have to do," replied Mr Duffy.

"If someone has been struck it could have an effect on their thinking," asked Mr Hartnett, to which Mr Duffy refused to comment.

Commenting on Mark Nash, Mr Hartnett asked the witness did he note the condition of Mr Nash at the time of being arrested, such as injuries to his face.

“Its eighteen years ago judge but I didn't notice at the time,” replied Mr Duffy.

Mr Hartnett informed Mr Duffy, it was one of his jobs to note any injury to a prisoner in the role of member in charge.

"Are you aware a doctor saw blood on his face, so how did it come about you didn't note blood on his face or a laceration to head?

"I didn't notice it," replied Mr Duffy.

The court previously heard from Dr Ciaran White, who examined Mark Nash at the police station in Galway and observed he had a laceration on his head, an abrasion on his face as well as three superficial abrasions over his fingers and an abrasion on his knee.

The court previously heard that one of the guards who had arrested Mr Nash for the assault of Sarah Jane Doyle at Two Two Mile Ditch, on the Tuam Road in Galway had used a baton.

Mr Duffy today told the court he did not hear any talk of a baton being used on the head of Mark Nash on August 16 and it was only later that day or the next day when he became aware. He also said that a baton report had been sent at the time.

Mr Hartnett told the court that there was no mention in any statement of the use of a baton and there "was no trace whatsoever" of a baton report being sent to a Superintendent.

Still under cross examination, Mr Hartnett asked Mr Duffy, when he first noticed Mr Nash had a wound to his head.

"I don't know, I fulfilled all my obligations, its 18 years ago, I really have no idea," replied Mr Duffy.

Mr Hartnett asked the witness, did he not see the wound to the accused head, despite seeing him on a number of occasions?

"I didn’t take note of it," replied Mr Duffy.

"I'm going to suggest to you that you well knew Mark Nash had been batoned on the head and you were suppressing that fact" stated Mr Hartnett.

"No judge," replied Mr Duffy.

The court heard that at 9.15pm that evening, Dr White told Mr Duffy to take Mark Nash to hospital but it took the guards at Mill Street two

and half hours to take him to University Hospital Galway.

"Why did you wait two and half house?" asked Mr Hartnett.

"That’s the time it suited and I had to make arrangements, this was a violent prisoner so I had to make sure it was safe for me and the people in hospital," replied Mr Duffy.

"I told them I coming up around 12pm, that’s the time I picked," added Mr Duffy.

"Why 12pm, the doctor said two and a half hours prior to 12pm, so why pick 12, can I suggest to you that you knew questioning would stop at 12pm and you choose 12pm, because there would be no interference with questioning prior to this," stated Mr Hartnett.

"I looked after the prisoners rights," said Mr Duffy in reply.

Mr Hartnett then questioned Mr Duffy about what other members of An Garda Siochana visited Mill Street Station that night.

"Was anyone there who had been involved in the Grangegorman murders, if there was anyone from there would you be aware of it?" asks Mr Hartnett.

"Not if I wasn't at the front desk, I wouldn't be aware of other senior Gardai coming in," answered Mr Duffy.

"Did Detective Superintendent Gallagher come? We know he was there on the Sunday and he entered a room in the station and you didn't note that," said Mr Hartnett.

The court also heard that Mr Duffy was not aware of an inquiry at the time by Assistant Commissioner McHugh of An Garda Siochana and was not invited to give a statement in relation to the detention of Mark Nash either.

Mr Hartnett said: "We were told by Mr McHugh he interviewed and spoke to Det Sugrue, Det Lynagh, Det Dillon and two other detectives, did this never reach your ears that this was going on, can I suggest to you that this is “quite extraordinary."

"Are you telling me you cant remember seeing a wound on his face, laceration to his head or hearing of any inquiry by Assistant Commissioner McHugh, is it possible you have forgotten."

The court heard how Mr Duffy was requested to travel from Mill Street Garda Station to Mountjoy Prison with Mr Nash and two other guards, on the evening of August 17 1997.

"Why was it necessary for a person who had been the member in charge to travel as an escort and one of the questioning guards also went, it is very unusual for a Detective to take up escort duty," said Mr Hartnett.

 Mr Duffy replied that there was "very little questioning on the way up" to Dublin.

At the end of the day, the court heard from a prison officer, on duty in Mountjoy Prison on the morning of December 6 1997 whose job it was to check the cells on each landing.

That morning, Mr Nash wasn't in his bed but on the floor underneath.

The prison officer entered the cell and noticed a plastic bag on the floor with a couple of toiletries.

Other officers arrived in as well as medics and sat him up and tried to talk to him.

First Aid was carried out on Mr Nash and he was hard to understand.

The prison officer retrieved a piece of A4 paper on the table and written on it was  "Ah free at fucking last…! I wish.”

An envelope  which appeared to be a suicide note was there which contained five pages of writing with the opening lines reading:

“Not every man, woman, who takes their own lives leaves a note, but I feel I should, I've had enough, this life is not one I wish to live.”

At the end of the day, Justice Carroll Moran told the jury of six men and five women that the duration of the trial would be another three

weeks.

He added: "I know from experience that things don’t always go according to plan, its impossible to run a trial similar to a railway time table.”

The trial continues.

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