Saturday 23 March 2019

Young mum left dying on floor of derelict building for four hours after being beaten, murder trial hears

Amy McCarthy was found dead in a derelict building in Cork. Photo: Provision
Amy McCarthy was found dead in a derelict building in Cork. Photo: Provision

Ralph Riegel

A YOUNG mother of one was left dying on the floor of a derelict building for four hours after she was beaten and strangled.

The revelation came as a Central Criminal Court murder trial heard that Amy McCarthy (22) is estimated to have survived for around four hours after she suffered blunt force trauma injuries from multiple blows and had indications - including apparent hand grip marks on her neck - that she was manually strangled.

The young woman had fallen into a coma before her death.

Adam O'Keeffe (27) has denied the murder of his girlfriend, Ms McCarthy, who gave birth to their son in 2016.

O'Keeffe, on the opening day of the trial before Ms Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of six women and five men, denied the murder of Ms McCarthy but admitted her manslaughter.

The trial heard that O'Keeffe was very jealous and, on the day of Ms McCarthy's death, had become embroiled in a row with her where he seemed to believe that she had cheated on him.

The trial was told their relationship was very volatile and both had alcohol dependency issues.

O'Keeffe is charged with the murder of Ms McCarthy between April 29/30 2017 on the second floor of a derelict office complex at Sheares Street in Cork city centre.

A post mortem examination by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster found that Ms McCarthy died from multiple injuries including blunt force trauma to the head and asphyxia caused by manual strangulation.

She had bruises and abrasions to both eyes, her face, nose, neck and jaw.

Parallel abrasions were found on her neck which could indicate manual grip marks consistent with strangulation.

The young woman had also suffered brain swelling and a subdural haemorrhage.

Blood tests revealed a very high concentration of alcohol in her system - 253mg in her blood and 400mg in her urine.

Dr Bolster consulted with neuro-pathologist Dr Niamh Bermingham over the disparity in the alcohol readings in the blood and urine and early neuronal brain changes.

Dr Bermingham indicated that this was likely the result of Ms McCarthy being alive after the trauma incident and her metabolism breaking down the alcohol.

Normally alcohol in the blood and urine is to a ratio of 1:1.3.

She indicated the process of Ms McCarthy being alive and her body continuing to metabolise the alcohol could be anywhere between four and eight hours.

Dr Bolster said she believed Ms McCarthy was alive for around four hours after she suffered the blunt force trauma and strangulation injuries.

"This mechanism is very complex," she said.

"I believe it is closer to four hours (Ms McCarthy being alive after the incident) than closer to eight hours.

"She certainly must have lived for a number of hours after the trauma."

Dr Bolster said there was no indication of any kind of weapon being used in the attack on Ms McCarthy.

The blunt force trauma injuries she had sustained were consistent with injuries that can be inflicted by a hand or fist.

The young woman had not suffered any fractures.

In opening the case, Sean Gillane SC, for the State, said Ms McCarthy had been involved in a relationship with O'Keeffe for about three to four years before her death.

Mr Gillane said that O'Keeffe, who was originally from the east Cork area but had an address at St Vincent's Hostel on Angelsea Terrace in Cork city, had "expressed jealousy on a regular basis."

He said it was the State's case that, on April 29 2017, O'Keeffe met Ms McCarthy in Cork city but later became involved in a dispute with her.

"A heated argument developed between Adam O'Keeffe and Amy McCarthy - it seemed to be based on a belief or assertion by Mr O'Keeffe that Amy McCarthy had cheated on him," he said.

Around 6.30am on April 30, the defendant and two other men went to the Mercy University Hospital (MUH), not far from Sheares Street, and sought medical attention from a security guard and nurse on duty.

Paramedics immediately went to No 36 Sheares Street and found the body of Ms McCarthy lying on her back on the second floor.

Blood spatters were on the wall and injuries were visible to her face and neck.

One paramedic said that Adam O'Keeffe placed his head on Ms McCarthy's chest and then kissed her twice on the lips before he left the room at the request of the emergency services.

O'Keeffe, who was wearing a light blue shirt and dark slacks, sat throughout the proceedings with his head cradled in his hands.

Ms McCarthy was originally from Greenmount in Cork city centre and was from a close and loving family.

She had made considerable efforts to overcome her alcohol dependency since the birth of her son.

Members of Ms McCarthy's family again attended the Central Criminal Court hearing.

Ms McCarthy is survived by her son, Adam, her parents, Brian and Regina, and her siblings, Gillian, Jessica and Hayley.

The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, continues.

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