Tuesday 12 December 2017

Unanimous verdict as Richard Dekker found guilty of murder of Daniel McAnaspie

The Criminal Courts of Justice (Stock photo)
The Criminal Courts of Justice (Stock photo)
Daniel McAnaspie

Eoin Reynolds

There were roars of "Justice for Daniel" when Richard Dekker was put in custody after he was found guilty of the murder of 17-year-old Daniel McAnaspie.

The victim was in the care of the HSE and his decomposed body was discovered by a farmer in a 7-foot deep drainage ditch in Rathfeigh, Co Meath, 30 km from where he was killed.

Dekker (30) from the Blanchardstown area of Dublin was found guilty by a unanimous jury verdict of Daniel's murder at Tolka Valley Park on February 26, 2010. Trevor Noone (28), also from Blanchardstown, pleaded guilty to manslaughter last month for his role in the boy's death.

Dekker's conviction came after a week-long trial and more than eight hours of deliberation by the jury at the Central Criminal Court. When the foreman confirmed that the verdict was unanimous, at least one of Daniel's family could be heard whispering "well done, well done".

As Justice Patrick McCarthy announced he was remanding Dekker in custody until a sentencing hearing on April 3 they cheered and clapped. One shouted: "Well done judge, well done jury" while others shouted "Justice for Daniel", a slogan that has been emblazoned on t-shirts worn by the teen victim's family during the trial.

Dekker himself did not react, but sat with his eyes closed as the verdict was announced. Prison guards quickly led him away.

The conviction made legal history as it is the first time a person has been retried under the Criminal Justice Procedure Act 2010, which allows the State to retry a person even after they have been acquitted.

Dekker faced trial in 2013 but was acquitted by the trial judge on the grounds that there was not enough evidence. The State went to the Supreme Court and used the 2010 Act to overturn that decision and try Dekker again.

Prosecuting counsel Brendan Grehan SC said Daniel's family will prepare a statement for the court which will be read out at the sentencing hearing. Having been convicted of murder, Dekker faces a mandatory life sentence.

Outside the court Detective Superintendent Colm Fox, the senior investigating officer, said Daniel's murder was a "heinous act of violence against a child. Justice has been done."

Evidence in trial

Daniel McAnaspie's parents were dead and he was in the care of the HSE in February 2010.

On the day he died his carers dropped him off in Finglas where he was going to hang out with some friends. His curfew was 9pm but he skipped it and went to Blanchardstown with a friend to meet two girls. He was drinking and, according to several witnesses, was in good form.

Daniel, his friend Gary Arnold and the two girls, Denise Kelly and Shauna Burke, hung out on a residential street in Blanchardstown where they met Dekker and Noone. It was the prosecution's case that later in the night, after Daniel's friends had left, Dekker and Noone lured him to Tolka Valley Park where they stabbed him to death with a single blade from a garden shears.

The only reason given for the attack was that earlier in the night Daniel was boasting about some people he had fought.

When he mentioned having fought a relative of Trevor Noone, Noone punched Daniel once in the face, knocking him to the ground. Daniel's friends said the pair made up immediately and shook hands.

But later in the night, according to interviews given by Dekker to gardai, Noone decided he was going to give Daniel "a hiding".

At about 4am Daniel's friends went home. They tried to get Daniel to go with them but he wanted to stay. Once his friends were gone, Noone and Dekker lured Daniel to Tolka Valley Park by telling him they were going to fight "some lads from Corduff". Dekker said that he knew Noone was carrying the blade from the garden shears and intent on giving the boy a hiding.

According to Dekker's version of events, while they walked along a wooden boardwalk that crosses the Tolka River, surrounded by trees and bushes, Noone stabbed Daniel in the back with the shears.

Dekker said Daniel begged for his life but Noone insisted "he has to go" and stabbed him again and again. Forensic scientist Dr David Casey identified 12 stab cuts on the jacket Daniel was wearing and former deputy state pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber found multiple stab wounds to his neck and torso.

Following the killing the two men abandoned the body and went home, but at some point it was removed and taken 30 kilometres where it was dumped in a farmer's drainage ditch at Rathfeigh, Co Meath.

There was evidence that it had been transported inside a suitcase, but by the time it was discovered by the farmer the suitcase had disintegrated and all that remained was its steel frame. Daniel had been dead almost three months and his body was identified by matching it to DNA taken from his toothbrush.

Despite extensive insect infestation and decomposition Dr Jaber was able to see at least some of the injuries that caused his death.

Dekker told gardai he had no idea how the body got to Rathfeigh but he suggested that Noone could have moved it.

In their deliberations the jury had three options open to them.

If they believed Dekker helped to lure Daniel to Tolka Valley Park but did not believe that Noone intended to cause him any harm they could have acquitted him. If they thought he knew Noone's intention was to cause harm, but not serious harm, they could have found him guilty of manslaughter.

Their murder verdict means that they believed the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that he aided and abetted Noone with the intention of killing or causing serious injury to the boy.

The court will hear about the impact of Daniel's death on his family on April 3.

Online Editors

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