Thursday 22 February 2018

Woman accused of murder told gardaí man ran into home and stabbed boyfriend

The Central Criminal Court
The Central Criminal Court

Eoin Reynolds

A woman accused of murder first told gardai a man had run into her home and stabbed her boyfriend and later said she had acted in self defence.

Norma Phillips (46), a Zimbabwean national with an address on the Phibsboro Road, Phibsboro, Dublin 7 has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 36-year-old Stefan Neanu on April 12, 2015 at her former home on the Phibsboro Road.

Opening her trial today at the Central Criminal Court prosecuting counsel Denis Vaughan Buckley SC told the jury they would hear evidence that gardai and paramedics responded to a 999 call at about 11pm on April 11 from a distressed woman saying someone had been stabbed at a flat on the Phibsboro Road. When they arrived they found Mr Neanu in a bedroom and asked Ms Phillips what had happened.

Mr Buckley said she told gardai that she answered a knock on the door and a man ran into her home, down the hallway and stabbed Mr Neanu before running off again. In subsequent interviews with gardai she said she had acted in self defence.

Giving evidence this afternoon Garda Niall Cadden of Mountjoy Garda Station told Mr Buckley that he responded to the 999 call and when he arrived he found Ms Phillips to be "a bit hyper, a bit anxious". He said she told the gardai that she didn't want them in her home and that she had only called the ambulance service.

When questioned she told Garda Cadden  that somebody had stabbed her "boyfriend" but she was unable to give them a description of the man, saying only that he was Irish. When gardai asked for the name of the man who had been stabbed she told them she only knew his first name and that she had known him a "couple of weeks".

Gda Cadden described her as "panicky and frantic". He agreed with defence counsel Sean Gillane SC that she was "highly distressed" and that although she did not want gardai there, she did nothing to prevent them from entering her home or attending to the injured man.

Garda Stephen Rooney of Mountjoy Garda Station told Mr Buckley that Ms Phillips repeatedly asked if Mr Neanu was ok. He also agreed with Mr Gillane that the claims she made about a man running into the house and stabbing Mr Neanu were not true. He said it was clear that Ms Phillips was concerned about Mr Neanu.

Ciaran Wilson of the Dublin Fire Brigade told Mr Buckley that he was first on the scene and knocked on the door for two to three minutes before Ms Phillips let him in. In the back bedroom he found Mr Neanu lying on a bed and wearing just a pair of jeans. He had a bleeding injury to his chin and what Mr Wilson believed to be a small wound to his chest. There was not much blood, he said, other than that coming from the wound to his chin. Mr Neanu's eyes were dilated so Mr Wilson believed he was drunk or on drugs but at that time he was awake and able to stand up.

Mr Neanu walked outside with paramedics who then checked his vital signs, which proved to be normal. He was taken to the Mater Hospital where he died about two hours later. During the trial opening Mr Buckley told the court that State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy would give evidence that Mr Neanu died from a stab wound that went through one of his lungs and pierced his heart.

Detective Garda Seamus O'Donnell of the Garda Technical Bureau told Mr Buckley that he found a blood-stained carving knife among a pile of rubbish on a stairs inside the flat. He agreed that this knife is the alleged murder weapon. Showing the knife to the jury, Det Gda O'Donnell described it as a "sharp carving knife" with an eight inch (200mm) blade.

The trial continues tomorrow in front of Justice Margaret Heneghan and a jury of four men and eight women.

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