Monday 27 January 2020

There is 'ample evidence' to convict man accused of Cork Prison murder, court hears

Graham Johnson, who was murdered in a prison kitchen
Graham Johnson, who was murdered in a prison kitchen

Alison O'Riordan

A Central Criminal Court jury has been told that there is “ample evidence” in respect of the charge against a man accused of murdering a fellow Cork Prison inmate.

Mr Tim O’Leary SC, prosecuting, this morning gave his closing speech in the trial of Brian Veale (31) of Dominic Street, Cork who has pleaded not guilty to a charge of murdering Graham Johnson at Cork Prison, Rathmore Road in Cork City on May 16, 2015.

Counsel told the jury that there is a deceased man in this trial and they would have to look at the facts as “dispassionately” as they can.

The court heard there was “ample evidence" in respect of the charge of murder in this case.

“Given the relative brevity of this case you should remember all the facts. We have had effectively three days of evidence and that is very fast in a murder case,” he said.

Addressing the jury, Mr O'Leary said there are eye witness accounts of what was heard and seen and consequently they do not have to “speculate” on what went on in the kitchen of Cork Prison on May 16.

“Although it may be distasteful, you have to engage with the facts of what happened that day in Cork Prison. There isn’t a great disparity or conflict to what the facts are in this case. It’s relatively straight forward in terms of what actually happened,” he said.

The barrister told the jury that if they look at this case in “any reasonable way” there could be no doubt that a killing occurred.

Mr O’Leary told the court that what caused Mr Johnson’s death was not in dispute saying: “We know Mr Johnson was alive shortly after 5pm and then declared dead shortly after 6pm. We also know from the post-mortem conducted by Dr Marie Cassidy at Cork University Hospital that this man died from a single stab wound to the front of the chest.”

The court heard that the evidence was “all one way” and Mr Veale was the person who “stabbed” Mr Johnson which resulted in him dying.

“One of the witnesses said Mr Veale approaches Mr Johnson, turns him around and plunges the knife into his chest. The knife goes so far in that it goes through the heart and hits the vertebrae in his spine. We saw the size of the knife so it is not an issue who caused Mr Johnson’s death or who killed him unlawfully,” he said.

Mr O’Leary will continue his closing speech to the jury this afternoon.

Earlier in the morning the prosecution called Detective Garda James O’Reilly, who was involved in interviewing Mr Veale at Mayfield Garda Station on May 22, to give evidence.

Detective Garda James O’Reilly told Mr Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, that Section 18 (1) a of the Criminal Justice Act 1984, as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2007, was invoked in two interviews with Mr Veale.

This section allows a court or jury to draw inferences from an accused’s failure or refusal to account for an object, substance or mark, or any mark on such object, found on his person, on his clothing, in his possession or in the place of arrest.

Det Gda O’Reilly agreed with Mr Cooney that the accused man replied “no comment” when he was asked to account for the blood-stained knife and the blood on his own clothing, shoes, left hand and forearm.

The court heard that Mr Veale also replied “no comment” when gardai asked him to account for his “blood-stained kitchen clothing” which were discarded in the bin of his cell.

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