Wednesday 21 February 2018

Skull of man severely fractured after he was 'badly battered about the head', murder trial hears

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Alison O'Riordan

A murder trial jury has heard that the skull of a man killed in Athy over two years ago was severely fractured after he was "badly battered about the head".

Seamus Morgan (49) with an address at The Hollands, Athy, Co Kildare is charged with murdering Laurence Keane (56) on July 19 2013.

Today at the Central Criminal Court Mr Morgan pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Keane.

Today prosecution counsel Mr Tom O'Connell SC told the jury of three men and nine women that it is the prosecution's case that the attack on Mr Keane which led to his death took place "shortly before midnight on July 18 2013" but the deceased did not die until the following day.

"I think the prosecution in this case will establish to your satisfaction that it was an unlawful murder. Laurence Keane was in his mid to late fifties at the time of his death and was not in good shape as he had been in a traffic accident so he walked with a stick," said Mr O'Connell.

The court heard Laurence Keane was "very badly battered about the head with an object which caused him severe fracturing of his skull in at least four places."

In "summarising the case" against Mr Morgan, prosecution for the State said the court will hear Mr Keane was "attacked" in a lane way between St John's Lane and the Greenhills estate in Athy between 11.30pm and 11.45pm on July 18 2013.

"He died in Naas General Hospital as a result of his injuries. A post mortem was carried out by Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis who concluded that the cause of death was as a result of blunt force trauma to the head with four fractures to his skull," he said.

Counsel told the jury they will hear evidence from eye witnesses concerning "Seamus Morgan attacking Laurence Keane."

The court heard these eye witnesses were a "number of young men on bicycles in in the "reasonably well lit lane-way at the time of the killing" who knew both the accused and deceased.

"Two of those who observed the assault will say they saw Seamus Morgan assault Laurence Keane. One other (person's) recollection is that he saw Mr Morgan assault somebody but he couldn’t say who was on the ground. There is also evidence that the attacker Mr Morgan used an iron bar to beat Mr Keane with," said Mr O'Connell.

Regarding DNA evidence counsel told the court that on July 19 2013, gardai obtained a search warrant to search Mr Morgan's home.

"It was during this search that Garda Jason Hughes found a pair of wet, grey and yellow Adidas runners in a bin in the garden, at the side of Mr Morgan's house," said counsel. 

Mr O'Connell told the jury they will hear the runners were seized, then placed in an evidence bag, photographed and later sent to Dr Hilary Clarke at the Forensic Science Lab.

"Dr Clarke found there were small blood stains on both the right and left runner. She will tell you the blood profiles found on the runners were full DNA profiles which matched the blood sample taken from Mr Keane at his post mortem. Dr Clarke will tell you that the chance of finding this profile if the DNA had come from someone unrelated to Mr Keane would be considerably less than one in one thousand million," said counsel.

The court heard that other evidence in the case concerned CCTV footage as well as the deceased and Mr Morgan been "seen together throughout the night in the centre of Athy."

"Various eye witnesses said they saw them around the town together in the night and right up to the time of the murder. So there is evidence of association right up to the murder," said the barrister.

The court heard they will also hear "evidence of a motive" as there was "long standing ill will" between the two men.

Mr O'Connell told the court one witness will say he found the body of Mr Keane "at the top of the lane" and rang gardai at 11.49pm.

The court heard the ambulance service arrived at the scene at about 12.21am on July 19 2013 before Mr Keane was taken to Naas General Hospital.

"Mr Keane was unconscious and the injury was so great it was inoperable. He died at 4.49am on July 19 2013," said counsel.

The barrister said the jury will hear how Mr Morgan was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Laurence Keane on July 25 2013 and brought to Newbridge garda station and detained there for "five periods in all".

"He admitted to gardai he had been in the lane-way with Mr Keane and there was long standing animosity between the two men. He was subsequently rearrested on April 17 2014 as some new evidence had come to light," said Mr O'Connell.

The trial continues.

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