Wednesday 22 November 2017

Trial of man charged with murder of former rugby captain fails to reach verdict

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

A jury have failed to reach a verdict in the trial of a 32 year-old man charged with murdering a former captain of a Dublin rugby club last year.

Gary Walsh (32) with an address at Ravensdale Park, Kimmage, Dublin 15 had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Cathal Sweeney (62) at a house in Terenure on February 8 2014.

Mr Walsh, however pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Sweeney at the Central Criminal Court last week but this plea was not accepted by the State.

The jury began its deliberations on Thursday morning and spent a total of five hours and 27 minutes deliberating, before telling Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy this morning that at least ten of them had not agreed on a verdict.

"We are disagreeing as a jury, at least ten of us cannot agree on the verdict," said the foreman.

The judge asked the foreman of the jury if he thought it was worthwhile considering the matter or did they feel they had brought it as far as possible?

"We are at [logger] heads at our own decision and I don’t think it will change," replied the foreman.

Earlier this morning the judge gave the jury the option of bringing in a majority verdict before they retired to deliberate at 10.16am today.

The judge said: "I can tell you now, you are at liberty to bring in a majority verdict if you see fit. At least ten of you must agree on the verdict, that is the position from now on as far as the case is concerned."

After failing to reach agreement, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy thanked the jury of eight men and four women and excused them from jury service for a period of ten years.

The court heard the case will now be dealt with by another jury in a new trial set to start on April 24 in 2017.

The accused was remanded in custody on the same terms.

Opening the prosecution case last week, 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."

The jury heard 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.

The jury 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.

During the trial Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis told the jury that the former Dublin rugby club captain died from blunt force trauma to his head and face with profuse haemorrhage on a background of the enlargement of the heart and Warfarin therapy.

Dr Curtis said the information he was provided with at the time included the deceased being 62 years of age, separated, living alone and taking Warfarin.

 He then told the court Mr Sweeney was unemployed, was of well built stature and had been a "heavy drinker" for the past several years.

The court heard that Dr Curtis's conclusions at post-mortem was that this "elderly man had sustained severe blunt force trauma to his head and face as well as extensive bruising to his scalp, face and mouth."

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