Sunday 18 March 2018

Teen's sentencing for attempted murder adjourned following Supreme Court judgment

Tadhg Costello: Changed plea
Tadhg Costello: Changed plea

Niamh O’Donoghue

The sentencing of a south County Dublin teenager who pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of a 17-year-old has been adjourned in light of a Supreme Court judgment.

Tadhg Costello (18) of Richmond Hill, Monkstown, had pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of Josh Leahy at Johnson's Court in Dublin city on May 31, 2012.

He had also pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to Mr Leahy and unlawful possession of a knife on the same date.

But Costello changed his plea to guilty of attempted murder on the fifth day of his Central Criminal Court trial last November.

On that date Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, told the court the plea was acceptable and the other two counts would be taken into consideration.

At Costello’s sentencing hearing today, Damien Colgan SC, defending, told the court that in light of a Supreme Court decision he may need to address the court and asked for a two to three-week adjournment.

Yesterday a unanimous Supreme Court judgment quashed an attempted rape conviction on grounds that suspects who request a lawyer cannot be questioned by gardaí until they get that legal advice.

Mr Justice Paul Butler told the court the defence had to consider the Supreme Court judgment and said that an aspect of the probation report caused him some concern.

“In relation to sentence I received a very comprehensive probation report and the very end of it talks about the future,” said the judge.

Mr Burns said a victim impact report had been prepared by Mr Leahy, who was in court with his mother and counsel asked for a shorter adjournment.

Mr Justice Butler told the court the defence needed to consider the judgment and remanded Costello on continuing bail for sentencing on March 21 next.

Costello’s guilty plea came following a decision by the judge on foot of two days of legal argument over the admissibility of Costello’s garda interview recordings.

Mr Leahy was stabbed six times in the back after he left a nightclub in South William Street in Dublin 2.

He suffered a collapsed lung and had a chest drain inserted at St. James’s Hospital.

Mr Leahy gave evidence to the court that he went to The Lost Society nightclub with two other friends on the night of May 30, 2012.

He said he stayed at the nightclub until it closed at 2.30am or 3am and was walking up towards Grafton Street when the incident happened at the junction of Clarendon Street and Johnson’s Court.

Mr Leahy said he and his two friends met a group of eight people who started shouting at them as they were walking by.

He said he knew one of them, Sean Plunkett, who was going out with his ex-girlfriend Sarah Whelan.

Mr Leahy said he walked around the corner and the other group were all shouting at them.

“They were shouting at us, provoking us,” Mr Leahy told the court.

He said one of the men had a knife and was waving it at them before his friend, ‘Daffy’, was hit by one of them.

He said about six of the men jumped on him and he tried to defend himself by putting his arms over his head.

Mr Leahy told the court that they were hitting him and threw him against a wall.

He said it lasted until he saw them running away and when he got to the top of the alleyway he saw a garda vehicle driving by.

Mr Leahy said his ex-girlfriend came up to ask him if he was alright and she told him he had been stabbed.

He said he was starting to lose his breath and the gardai called an ambulance, which took him to hospital.

Emmanuel Mihaylov told the court that he and Mr Leahy and another friend were on their way towards Clarendon Street when they came across a group of people.

He said there was shouting, intimidation and provocation coming from the group and that his friend Daffy was shouting back at them. He said another guy hit Daffy unexpectedly.

“Josh and Daffy are being hit by the lot of them,” said Mr Mihaylov.

Mr Mihaylov said he saw the accused standing two or three metres away holding a knife.

“I stood up and Tadhg Costello was holding a knife and facing me”, he said.

He said he went to hit a man who was attacking Mr Leahy but he was rugby tackled to the ground and nobody hit him after that.

He told the court one of the guys from the other group knew him from long time ago and told him to leave him alone.

Mr Mihaylov said Mr Leahy’s back was covered in blood and he could not breathe at all.

He said when Mr Leahy was taken to hospital he was driven around by gardai and he pointed out the accused.

Under cross-examination Damien Colgan SC, defending, put it to him he had said in his own statement that Mr Leahy and another man did not get on.

“Basically Josh and Sean hate each other,” Mr Mihaylov said in the statement.

Consultant cardio-thoracic surgeon Mr Michael Tolan said Mr Leahy was reviewed at St James’s Hospital on May 31 2012.

Mr Tolan said Mr Leahy was stabbed six times in the back with wounds in the upper and lower part and one in the midline.

The surgeon said a chest drain was inserted and there was good re-expansion of the lung.

Mr Tolan said the chest drain was removed on June 1, 2012 and Mr Leahy was discharged on June 2.

Garda Michael O’Shea said he was on plain-clothes mobile patrol with Garda Mark Eccles on Grafton Street on May 31, 2012.

Gda O’Shea said a description of a group of males involved in a fight came over the radio.

He said when he arrived at St Stephen’s Green some of the men had got into a taxi and a few of them were standing waiting to get into it.

Gda O’Shea said they identified themselves as gardai and asked the men to get out of the taxi.

He said he observed the accused throw a shiny object behind the rails and Gda Eccles then got over them and recovered a knife.

Garda Damien Beakey said he was driving his patrol car up Grafton Street shortly after 3am on May 31.

He observed three males walking slowly and could see blood on one of their backs.

Gda Beakey said they all spoke to the gardai and informed them a fight had taken place.

He said one of the males was struggling to talk, was out of breath and he was taken to hospital by ambulance.

Gda Beakey said he got a description of the males who were suspects in the assault and he asked the injured party’s two friends to go around in the back of the patrol car with him.

He said Gda Eccles called 10 or 15 minutes later and went up to St Stephen’s Green North.

Gda Beakey said he observed eight males standing there and one of the injured party’s friends, Emmanuel Mihaylov, positively identified the group.

He said Mr Mihaylov pointed out the defendant as being the person who had the knife earlier in the night.

Gda Beakey said he saw the defendant throwing something behind him through black railings and that Gda Eccles got over the railing and picked up a knife.

Irish Independent

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