Wednesday 17 January 2018

Teen guilty of killing pensioner was provoked, claims lawyer

Jessica Magee

LAWYERS for a teenager with intellectual disabilities found guilty of killing a pensioner claim there were circumstances of provocation.

Brendan McGovern (19), of Killahurk, Carrigallen, Co Leitrim, is to be sentenced next Monday for the manslaughter of John Golden (73), whom the accused claims sexually abused him as a child.

The teenager has admitted assaulting Mr Golden at his home in Nedd, Doogarry, Killeshandra, in Co Cavan, on October 6, 2010.

Mr Golden died in hospital from septicaemia and hospital-related complications just over a month after he was found unconscious under his bed.

The teenager claimed he had been sexually assaulted by Mr Golden two or three times when he was 13 or 14, and that he had cut down his hours working at a local filling station in order to avoid any further contact with Mr Golden.

Detective Superintendent Thomas Maguire told the court that on the night of September 6, 2010, Brendan McGovern had been drinking in a pub with friends when he saw Mr Golden smiling in at him through the pub window.

The teenager said it “made him mad” and that he went around to the pensioner's house to confront him and put a stop to what he saw as his continued taunts.

The accused said that when Mr Golden pulled down his trousers and handed him a condom saying “Begob, you can do what you want,” he felt insulted and like a lesser person.

The court heard that Mr Golden was injured in the rectum, scrotum and around the eyes and head. He also suffered two fractured ribs and contusion of the brain.

Clinical psychologist Dr Davina Walsh told the court that Brendan McGovern's intellectual abilities lie in the borderline range between low average and mild disability.

She said his ability to forsee was limited, and that he was at low risk of committing an aggressive assault in the future.

Patrick Gageby SC, defending, said a portion of condom was found on the floor near where the pensioner was lying, with his DNA on it.

“Mr McGovern was clearly overtaken by events which had taken place in childhood and continued over,” he said.

“There were circumstances of provocation, which while they might not excuse his behaviour, might explain it,” he added.

“Mr McGovern is a young man with relatively difficult intellectual abilities. His ability to forsee is not those of ordinary people. He did not have the intention to kill or cause serious injury,” he said.

The defendant's father, Michael McGovern, said his son was “very remorseful and absolutely shocked” at his own actions and conscious of the dishonour brought on the family.

He added that his son had been in more or less constant employment since school, and was currently working long hours with a lorry driver that involved him leaving home as early as 5am and returning home to his parents' house at around 8pm.

The court heard written testimonials from neighbours, a primary school principal and past and current employers of Brendan McGovern, testifying that he was “honest, extremely hard-working, very reliable, well brought up, well-meaning and very shy”.

Lawyers for the DPP said they would place the crime in the “mid-range” of manslaughter offences.

They explained that there was no victim impact statement, as the deceased man Mr Golden had no family.

Patrick Gageby SC, defending, claimed that the offence fell into the “lower range” of manslaughter offences, and called for a wholly non-custodial sentence.

He pointed out that Brendan McGovern had pleaded guilty, had fully cooperated with gardaí and had no reputation of inflicting violence.

Mr Justice Paul Carney remanded Brendan McGovern in custody to be sentenced at 11am next Monday.

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