Thursday 5 December 2019

Victim's flat was covered in blood, murder trial told

Ralph Riegel

BLOOD spatters and stains were found throughout three rooms of the flat of a young man whose battered body was later recovered from a field.

A Central Criminal Court murder trial heard yesterday that three of John McManus's teeth were recovered from the hallway of his Cork flat -- and his body, found in a field behind a ditch in Ballyduff, Co Kerry, was initially thought by gardai to be just a bag of old clothes.

The revelation came as John Walsh (44) and Gillian Purcell (33) went on trial yesterday for the murder of Mr McManus (25).

Mr Walsh and Ms Purcell both deny murdering Mr McManus at a date unknown between October 29 and November 7, 2008, at Flat 1, 3 Verdon Place, Wellington Road, Cork.

Ms Purcell -- who is originally from Hollyhill in Cork -- has an address c/o the Simon Shelter, Anderson's Quay, Cork; while Mr Walsh's address is Carrigmore Park, Ballinlough, Cork.

Tom Creed, prosecuting, told the court that Mr McManus died from blunt force trauma caused by a severe beating.

He suffered cuts, bruises and abrasions to his head and body while superficial stab wounds were also found on his head.

"The pathologist will say he died from blunt force trauma to his head, neck and body due to multiple blows," he said.

Mr Creed told Mr Justice Paul Carney and the jury of six men and six women that the family of Mr McManus first became concerned about his wellbeing after October 30 and they notified gardai in his native Fermoy.

Gardai in Cork city were alerted and officers went to check the young man's flat at Verdon Place.

The last contact the family had with the young man was on October 30.

Mr Creed said that a substantial amount of blood staining was found in the flat by gardai when it was first examined on November 4 -- but there was no trace of Mr McManus.

It is the prosecution's case that Mr McManus was subjected to a serious assault, which took place in three rooms in his flat -- the hallway, kitchen and bedroom.


Gardai later obtained reports about "loud music and bashing and banging" in the young man's flat on October 30.

On November 6, 2008, Garda Dan O'Connor was on routine patrol on the Tralee-Ballybunion road in Kerry when he became suspicious of a parked car.

When he went to investigate, he came across the two defendants.

Gda O'Connor was unhappy with the vehicle over its NCT status and decided to seize it.

On subsequent examination, he spotted what he thought was blood in the boot of the car near the spare wheel.

However, Mr Walsh told him this was from a fishing trip he had been on some time previously.

Gda O'Connor put the details of the incident on the Garda PULSE system -- and officers then became aware of Garda concerns in Cork over the welfare of Mr McManus.

When gardai returned to the Ballyduff area, where the parked car was first spotted, they began a detailed search of a ditch and nearby field.

Officers spotted what they initially thought was a bag of old clothes but, on closer inspection, this turned out to be the badly beaten body of Mr McManus.

Mr Creed said that the State will claim that Mr McManus's blood was subsequently found on a crutch in the possession of Ms Purcell.

The State will also claim that palm and fingerprints found in blood in the Cork flat match those of John Walsh.

Blood was found in the kitchen, hallway, and bedroom of the one-bedroom ground floor flat.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News