Tuesday 12 November 2019

Text message killer fails in his appeal bid

David Byrne’s aunt Christine Keogh speaks to the media outside court yesterday after Marcus Kirwan lost his appeal
David Byrne’s aunt Christine Keogh speaks to the media outside court yesterday after Marcus Kirwan lost his appeal

Ruaidhrí Giblin

A man jailed for life two years ago, having lured a teen to his death by pretending to be a girl in text messages, has failed in his appeal against conviction.

Marcus Kirwan, of Cooley Road, Drimnagh, Dublin, who is now 22, had denied murdering 19-year-old David Byrne in Dublin four years ago but was convicted by a jury.

As his appeal was rejected yesterday, there were audible sighs of relief and sounds of sobbing from the family of Mr Byrne. Afterwards, David's aunt Angela Byrne said the family were "over the moon that justice has prevailed again for us".

"We've been to hell and back in the last four years. We've tried to stop this."

She said the appeal had "stressed us beyond belief".

David's uncle, Bill Byrne, thanked An Garda Síochána. "They were terrific throughout the whole thing, the support we got was great. I'd like to thank them".

Mr Byrne said he was grateful that "common sense prevailed".

The Central Criminal Court heard that Kirwan had lured Mr Byrne to a meeting on the night of March 19, 2011, by sending texts pretending to be a girl.

When the Drimnagh teenager arrived to meet the girl, he was set upon by Kirwan and others, who chased him into a dead end at an apartment complex. Kirwan then stabbed Mr Byrne nine times, once in his face and eight times in his back. His heart and lungs were punctured and one of the fatal wounds was 20cm deep.

Kirwan was given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan on February 4, 2013.

Kirwan moved to appeal his conviction on four main grounds involving an arrest warrant as well as alleged infirmities in the identification process and CCTV evidence.

His barrister, Dominic McGinn SC, had argued that an arrest warrant issued to a Garda Superintendent provided no basis for Kirwan's arrest by another garda.

Rejecting this, Mr Justice George Birmingham said there was a statutory basis for it, and it was garda practice since "time immemorial".

Furthermore, it was manifestly clear that neither the Superintendent nor the detective garda who arrested Kirwan were engaged in a deliberate or conscious violation of his Constitutional rights.


Turning to the other grounds of appeal, Mr Justice Birmingham said the identification of Kirwan on CCTV footage by a garda was a correct procedure even if contemporaneous records ought to have been kept.

Similarly, he said there was no need to call a software engineer to explain how phone analysis technology operates.

The fact of contact between the phone linked to Kirwan and the phone of the deceased formed circumstantial evidence, the judge said.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice Michael Peart, said all grounds of appeal were rejected and the court dismissed the appeal.

Irish Independent

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