Thursday 14 November 2019

Trial of man accused of murdering former rugby captain (62) in south Dublin home begins

Gardai at the scene in Terenure, Dublin; Inset: Cathal Sweeney in his rugby days
Gardai at the scene in Terenure, Dublin; Inset: Cathal Sweeney in his rugby days

Alison O'Riordan

The trial of a Dublin man accused of murdering a former captain of a Dublin rugby club last year following a row has opened at the Central Criminal Court.

Gary Walsh (32) with an address at Ravensdale Park, Kimmage, Dublin 15 has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Cathal Sweeney at a house in Terenure on February 8 2014.

Mr Walsh, however today pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Sweeney but this plea was not accepted by the State.

Opening the prosecution case, Mr Patrick McCarthy SC told the court "this was a case of murder" where there was going to be an issue of intoxication and drink involved.

The court heard that the events occurred at a flat at Ashdale Gardens in Terenure on February 8 2014 when at 17.30 that day a paramedic car was sent to assist the deceased Cathal Sweeney who had "facial trauma with active bleeding."

"He was unresponsive to CPR and had no pulse," said Mr McCarthy.

The barrister told the jury they will hear there were two other men present in the flat at the time, a Mr Colm Campbell, an important witness in the case and the accused Mr Gary Walsh.

In his opening speech Mr McCarthy said the court will hear that when paramedics arrived at the scene they were informed that Mr Sweeney was assaulted outside the flat. However when gardai arrived Mr Campbell was not happy with that version of events and indicated that Mr Walsh had assaulted Mr Sweeney.

"Gardai noted blood in the sitting room and bedroom as well as noting that both men were intoxicated at the time. Mr Campbell indicated at this stage that Gary Walsh had assaulted Mr Sweeney. Gary Walsh was wearing heavily blood stained tracksuit bottoms and he had stayed in the flat the previous night on Friday February 7," said counsel.

The jury of eight men and four women today (MONDAY) heard that the deceased Cathal Sweeney had arrived at the flat on the Saturday afternoon to watch the Ireland-Wales rugby match.

Prosecutor Mr McCarthy told the court the men had been drinking and a row developed with Mr Walsh assaulting the deceased.

"At the time an investigation proceeded and Gary Walsh was arrested and brought to Terenure garda station where gardai identified two matters central to the event," said the prosecutor.

Mr McCarthy said there was an allegation that a sexual assault had been committed by Cathal Sweeney on a person other than the accused, sometime prior to the events of February 8, 2014.  Also an inheritance had been received by Mr Sweeney from a relative, which was a quarter share in a woman's estate.

The court heard that the allegation of sexual assault was made in 2011 but was subsequently withdrawn.

"There were three people in the flat where a shambolic and chaotic lifestyle had been adopted with a lot of alcohol consumption. The events leading to the assault by Mr Walsh emerged because there had been talk about an inheritance and Mr Sweeney had paid some rent for Mr Campbell, " said counsel on behalf of the DPP.

Mr McCarthy then told the court that in his statement to gardai, the accused admitted attacking Mr Sweeney.

"Mr Walsh says this attack took place in the sitting room where they were watching television. There was blood in the sitting room and Mr Walsh denied in his statement that anything took place in the bedroom.

However when gardai arrived they found blood in the bedroom and on the bed," said counsel.

The court heard that Gary Walsh apparently did carry out CPR on the deceased and Mr Walsh accepted Mr Campbell had no part to play in the assault of Mr Sweeney.

"You will have to decide if the accused is guilty of murder or accept the plea he has given to you of manslaughter," said the barrister.

Counsel then read evidence from Dr Alan Watts, a registered medical practitioner. The court heard Mr Sweeney was found on the floor of the bedroom but was unresponsive.

Mr McCarthy then read that he had "significant facial trauma and active bleeding from a number of wounds".

The court heard the deceased was brought to the emergency department of St James's Hospital shortly after 6pm on February 8 2014 but there was no response to further resuscitation and was pronounced dead at 18.32.

This morning presiding judge Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy told the jury that the trial is expected to take approximately six days but to set aside a fortnight for the case.

 The trial continues.

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