Shane Smyth 'wanted to confront Mairead Moran for taking blood out of his body and putting poisonous spiders through his letterbox', court hears
MURDER accused Shane Smyth told his cousin he had stabbed Mairead Moran because he believed she had put secret cameras in his house, and black widow spiders which had bitten and paralysed him.
His cousin Rosemary Grogan said Mr Smyth had a “wild look in his eyes” when he called to her house after attacking Ms Moran (26) and she described him as being “on another planet.”
Ms Grogan was giving evidence today in the trial of Mr Smyth, who fatally stabbed Ms Moran after dragging her out of the store where she worked at Market Cross Shopping Centre, Kilkenny, on May 8, 2014.
The accused (29), with an address at McGuinness House, Evans Lane, Kilkenny is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.
Ms Grogan, Mr Smyth’s first cousin, told the court she was at home watching TV at Hazel Grove, Loughboy that night when the accused called to the door. She heard him asking her son “if his mam was home.”
Led through her statement by John O’Kelly SC, for the prosecution, she said she saw Mr Smyth standing outside.
“Shane had a wild look in his eyes and he was pulling at his hair,” she said. He asked to come inside and that he needed to talk to her for a minute. Ms Grogan told her son to go into the sitting room and she walked to the kitchen with Mr Smyth who was “agitated.”
“He stopped in the hall and told me he was after going spastic down the town,” she said. “He told me he was after stabbing someone.”
She “got a fright” and told him to go into the kitchen. Because he was paranoid schizophrenic she did not know if what he was saying was true “or if it was all in his head.”
They sat and she asked him what he was talking about.
“He said he had stabbed his ex-girlfriend Mairead in the nature shop in Market Cross shopping centre,” Ms Grogan said.
She said he had told her he stabbed her in the head and back.
“I thought he was delusional, that he had imagined it,” she told the court.
Asked if he had blood on him, she replied: “no, not a trace.”
She said Mr Smyth had told her Ms Moran “was after trying to steal a vial of blood from his house.”
He also told her Ms Moran had put black widow spiders in his house, he had been bitten and was paralysed for eight hours afterwards.
She said Mr Smyth told her he had gone to the shop because he wanted to “find out why she was doing these things to him.”
When she asked him if Ms Moran was OK, he said “she must be because he could feel her presence.”
He told her he would “bolt” if she rang the gardai.
She instead rang his brother Neill and went upstairs to talk to him on the phone, and asked him to ring the gardai to find out if what Mr Smyth was saying was true.
The accused was pacing and told her he had dropped the knife when the security guard told him to.
He also told her Ms Moran had put secret cameras in his house and poisoned him with black widow spider venom.
Ms Grogan tried to keep him calm and he gave her a stone in a green bag, asking her to mind it, she continued. A leather bracelet he was wearing and the pouch from the knife were then presented to the court in evidence.
At this, Ms Grogan became upset and cried.
She said she had never known Mr Smyth to be violent.
“I would never let him into the house if I thought he would do anybody any harm,” she said.
She had not seen him for two months before that night and did not know why he came to her house.
“He wasn’t angry when he was at my house, I would describe him as being on another planet,” she said
He also told her he had invented a cure for cancer that had “a lot to do with spiders” and said he had captured fairies.
Gardai came and arrested Mr Smyth at the house.
Led through his statement, another witness, Kevin Dollard told the court he knew Mr Smyth and met him in McDonald’s earlier on May 8. He knew that Mr Smyth had psychiatric issues and that he could say “strange things” so Mr Dollard would go along with whatever he said, “even if it didn’t make sense.”
“He was talking about microchips in his body and being forced into a gang war,” Mr Dollard said.
Mother-of-three Ellen Cruise said she had known the defendant for 17 years and on May 8, 2014, she met him while dropping her oldest child to school.
He asked was she free to have tea with him and they went to her house before she was due to drop her younger children to pre-school.
He was “grand” in the car and seemed amused.
“He looked to me like a child would look who hasn’t travelled in a car, and it made me happy to see him so amused” she said.
As they had a cigarette and spoke in her kitchen, he was agitated and said people were trying to steal things from him.
He said they were “strange things, unusual things” and this made her very uncomfortable.
She said Mr Smyth asked if her tattoos “did anything,” adding that she had pagan beliefs and was heavily tattooed with symbols.
“I replied they inspire me,” she said.
The accused had told her then that his tattoos did things. He took out a bag of crystals and gave her purple crystallised Lithium, which she said relieved stress and was useful for depression. She gratefully accepted it because she said this was not unusual for people with pagan beliefs.
He then told her he had “demonic tendencies,” and this made her feel uncomfortable, but she did not ask him what he meant.
He had a large clear crystal which she reached out for, but he pulled it away.
“Like a child, he completely turned away,” she said. “I was shocked at his reaction. He said ‘it shouts at me sometimes.”
This “sealed the deal” for her and she had had enough.
Ms Cruise said she told him she had to bring her children to pre-school and lied about a medical appointment being in hospital
She said he then told her “I had this stone for 10 years and I had a connection with it and they stole it from me.”
She described him as being “bipolar high.” She had not been aware that he was diagnosed schizophrenic.
She told him the stone might turn up somewhere, to be positive.
She said he kept asking her to stay and she told him she could not, saying “I’ll see you around.”
At one point, he had taken out an apple and said to her: “you must eat the fruit”, which “freaked her out”.
“When I left Shane I was shaking,” she said. She also said the change in him was “frightening.”
He never said where he was going.
In cross-examination, Rosemary Grogan told Brian O’Shea BL, for the defence, that Mr Smyth had been “zoning in and out” when she spoke to him.
She agreed he would previously have mentioned “being able to speak to God” and trying to find a cure for cancer through spider venom.
Ms Grogan's partner, Christy Fahy said after Mr Smyth came to the house, Ms Grogan came and told him he had said he “stabbed a girl down town.”
She had thought he was “off his head on drugs.” The accused told him “I’m Shane” and “said something crazy happened down town.”
He spoke about his ex-girlfriend trying to kidnap, poison him and take vials for blood from his house, as well as putting “spiders through his letter box.”
He said: “yeah, I stabbed a girl,” Mr Fahy said.
Mr Smyth had had a leather strap and knife holder and he told Mr Fahy the holder belonged to the knife he used in the stabbing.
He began rambling on about silly things, Mr Fahy said.
“I knew he was crazy when he was talking, I suggested he hand himself in,” he said.
The accused “didn’t think he’d killed her” and wanted to talk to his brother.
“I asked him did he plan this and he said he wanted to confront her for taking blood out of his body and putting poisonous spiders through his letterbox,” Mr Fahy said.
He said Mr Smyth firmly believed (the stabbing) had happened and Mr Fahy went along with this in case it was true because he did not want to put himself in danger.
In his statement, read out to the court, Neil Smyth said Shane Smyth was his younger brother by 10 years and had been committed originally eight to nine years ago.
On one occasion he had arrived at the family home and tried to push their mother down the stairs. He used to light fires in his room and spoke about witches and magic.
The accused had also poured bleach over the downstairs of the house and written a note about death, which he pinned to a door with a knife.
Neil Smyth lost contact with the accused, who cut ties with the family. The defendant had thought the family was conspiring to get him committed.
“When we tried to reach out to him there would be a backlash,” the statement continued.
Early one morning, he said, his father opened the door and the accused punched him on the nose.
He said his brother had loved reading science fiction and fantasy books and superhero comics. He played the Warhammer board game and listened to heavy metal and rock music.
The last time he saw him, he said in his statement, his brother was with people on the street and did not answer when he said hello.
He had not spoken to him face to face for four years, when he arrived at his parents’ house “out of his mind” and locked himself into the bathroom.
Neil Smyth stated that on the night of the stabbing, he missed a call from his cousin, who texted: “Neil, it’s Rose, can you call me ASAP. Emergency. I have Shane here, he’s after going crazy.”
He called her back and she told him what the accused said had happened. He asked if she was OK and said he would call the gardai.
Before he did this, the phone was passed to the accused, who said “yeah” when asked if everything was OK. The accused told him he needed to talk to him and he replied that he would go to the house.
He told Garda Lisa Fallon in Kilkenny Station there had been an incident and how to get to his cousin’s house, advising them of a safe way to enter.
He called his cousin again and heard screaming followed by “a couple of bangs.” When he arrived at the house, gardai told him his cousin was fine and his brother was cuffed inside.
A garda sergeant gave evidence of the operation put in place to arrest Mr Smyth, saying the front door of the house was breached and gardai entered.
Mr Smyth was sitting in the kitchen and Garda Jason Lawlor told him to get down on the floor, where he secured and handcuffed him. At this stage, the gardai were aware Ms Moran had passed away and Garda Gavin Sheehan arrested Mr Smyth on suspicion of murder at 10.17.
His reply was “I stabbed her, Mairead Moran, she tried to nick my blood.”
He was asked if he had any weapons on him and he said he did not.
Garda John O’Sullivan said when he got to Market Cross Shopping Centre, he saw Ms Moran lying on the ground outside the shop and “it was clear that this lady was very ill.”
He later attended St Luke’s Hospital, where she was taken by ambulance. Consultant surgeon Dr Rick Pretorius was called to the A&E where he was told there was a “major trauma.”
In his statement, he said he arrived at 9.15pm to find staff in the middle of attempting to resuscitate Ms Moran, who had been intubated.
She was unresponsive and attention turned to an injury on the left side of her chest which was actively bleeding.
“It was evident that there was injury and laceration to the heart and the patient was actively bleeding from this,” his statement read.
An emergency tracheotomy was performed and a catheter inserted, as well as direct cardiac compression but all attempts were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead at 9.58pm.
Ms Moran’s mother Margo formally identified her body at 12.05am.
Detective Sergeant Colin Furlong said while Mr Smyth was detained at Kilkenny Garda Station, he requested a blood sample be taken from him.
A doctor advised that the accused was fit to be interviewed but suggested he should be seen by a psychiatrist.
Garda Paul Coleman told Jane McCudden BL, for the defence, that when he was detained on the morning of May 9, Mr Smyth was asked if he had any injuries.
"The reply was nothing that he knows of but not sure and 'microchips in hips'," the garda said.
When asked if he was taken any medication, the accused replied: "I may have been drugged."
A toxicology report from the forensic science laboratory showed no drugs or alcohol in the blood sample the accused had requested.
Forensic evidence showed light bloodstaining by Ms Moran’s blood on Mr Smyth’s right boot. The dagger was heavily bloodstained and the tip was bent.
Ken O’Reilly, in charge of management at the flats where Mr Smyth had lived, told the court he was there on earlier on May 8, 2014 when he noticed the accused’s eyes “unusually wide open.”
He was agitated and told Mr O’Reilly he had been “bitten by spiders on his face.”
Mr O’Reilly said he could see no marks on him. There was a witchcraft circle with a triangle in the flat.
Taxi drivers said in statements they saw a man dressed in black run up to the rank and approach the fourth car on the evening of May 8, 2014.
The driver of the fourth car, Fran O’Neill, told him told him to go to the first car. That driver, James O’Malley, gave a statement that he saw the man running at full speed to his door.
He told the driver he was going to Assumption Place and got out at a scout’s den before paying Mr O’Malley.
“He was agitated and he was trying to conceal his agitation,” Mr O’Malley said in his statement. “I didn’t see any blood.”
Mr O’Malley said the man had been polite. He identified a picture shown to him by gardai as being the man,
A passer-by, Nicola Brennan said at 8.45pm, she saw a man get out of a taxi before crossing the road and jumping over the wall at the scouts building. She later heard about what happened in the shopping centre and that the suspect had left in a taxi.