Monday 20 November 2017

Islanders hit by the aftermath of shock pub killing

The population of Arranmore is in turmoil as one of its own is found guilty of manslaughter

Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

Sentence is to be passed next month after the acquittal on a murder charge of a native of Arranmore off the Donegal coast charged with killing another islander in 2009.

It was the first murder trial of one of the Atlantic islanders in living memory.

A jury found Stephen Boyle, 41, not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter over the death of 19-year-old Paul Boyle (no relation) during a pub brawl in October 2009.

During the three-week hearing at the High Court in Dublin, details were given of sexual jealousy, depression, suicidal behaviour and community antagonism on the island, which has a population of only 522.

The four siblings of victim Paul Boyle wept quietly as the jury gave its verdict last Tuesday afternoon.

The trial heard that Paul Boyle happened to be in Early's Bar on the island on the night there was an altercation between Stephen Boyle and other men, one of whom the court heard had had an affair with his wife.

The court heard accounts that when the fracas broke out, Paul Boyle tried to intervene to break up fighting, but Stephen Boyle hit him on the head with a glass and then plunged it into his neck, severing the artery.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Mr Paul O'Higgins told the jury that Stephen Boyle had originally left the island for London in 1988 and had come back and forth to a house he built on Arranmore. On the night of the killing, Stephen Boyle was talking to Paul Boyle earlier in the evening. Mr O'Higgins told the court the pair "didn't get on well" and there was a row about money.

He said Paul Boyle, who worked for Stephen Boyle in London, was of the view that he was owed €400.

Mr O'Higgins said Paul Boyle and his group moved to Early's Bar and Stephen Boyle arrived there later. He said Stephen Boyle came up with a Heineken glass and "stabbed it into Paul Boyle's neck". The court was told there were two major wounds and two minor wounds in his neck.

Paul Boyle was taken to the mainland to Letterkenny Hospital, but he died at 10.20am on October 3. Mr O'Higgins said Arranmore had a population of 522 people and this killing caused "immense shock and sadness on the island".

Paul Boyle's sister, Tara, said her brother had worked for Stephen Boyle, who had his own construction company in London, in 2008 and that he said the accused "owed him money".

She said her brother had been to a funeral earlier in the day and then went on to Letterkenny before returning to Arranmore. Later that night he went out on the island with some friends.

The court heard she met her brother in one bar before he went to Early's pub, that he had not drunk that much and had been talking to the accused. Ms Boyle told the court she did not know what the accused was drinking but that it was in a pint glass.

She said she was next door in the bar in Early's and she heard someone shouting, "Tony, don't," but she did not know who it was. Ms Boyle told the court she went into the lounge and "everyone was on top of Stephen Boyle".

"Paul was lying at the bar on the ground and there was a lot of blood in front of him. I couldn't move, I just started screaming," she said.

Earlier the court had heard evidence from islander Tony Ward, who was also in the pub that night. Mr Ward confirmed under questioning from Mr Micheal O'Higgins SC (defending) that he had an affair with Mr Boyle's wife, Sinead, which had gone on for more than two years.

Mr (Micheal) O'Higgins put it to him that a witness had seen him on the night of the killing having "a heated discussion" with the accused and he was trying to "minimise his involvement".

"You don't want people to know that seconds before Paul got killed, the air was being turned blue by you and by him shouting about her," said Mr O' Higgins. Mr Ward replied that he did not remember.

Earlier in the cross-examination Mr Ward agreed that on the night of the incident he "would have had a fair amount of drink" but said he didn't think his memory was affected by it.

Stephen Boyle's ex-wife Sinead McCauley told Mr Paul O'Higgins SC (prosecuting) that she had been separated from her husband for a number of years and that he was "barred from the house with a barring order".

She said that on the night of the incident he came to the house at 3am. She had heard a bang on the window and she saw he was covered in blood. She said he told her he had been beaten up and that he "hurt somebody", and he kept shouting abuse at her.

She told Mr Michael O'Higgins under cross-examination that she and Stephen met in the Nineties and married in August 1999.

Ms McCauley agreed he had built a house on a site, which was provided by Stephen Boyle's mother, and said that under legal advice she sought €150,000 for her share in the home.

She agreed that her husband was in England working for 12 days out of 14, but said they originally lived there together and that their child was born there.

Ms McCauley agreed that she had a number of other relationships, but she told the court: "The reason our marriage fell apart was because of his drinking."

She told the court, "Stephen told me he had relationships in England himself."

She also agreed that there was an attempt to reconcile the marriage in 2008, saying "we had a conversation", and further agreed between 2001 and 2006 there were periods when she and her husband were "intimate".

Sergeant Edward Griffin told Mr Vincent Heneghan BL, prosecuting, that 25 people were present when gardai arrived from the mainland at Early's Bar. He said the accused's brother arrived at the bar and told him where Stephen Boyle was.

He said the accused was not fully clothed when they arrived at the house and he was given the legal caution when he was arrested at 5.25am for an alleged assault in Early's Bar. Stephen Boyle told gardai, "I didn't mean to hit anyone," and he was then interviewed in the Garda station, the court was told.

Sgt Griffin said he was advised that Paul Boyle had died before he informed the coroner, and he took Stephen Boyle to Letterkenny Hospital for treatment.

He said when he informed Stephen Boyle that Paul Boyle had died, Stephen had started crying and was then cautioned but "he had nothing to say".

Two psychiatrists who examined Stephen Boyle said he suffered from bipolar disorder and at the time of the killing had been in a state of "diminished responsibility".

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Mary McGuire said Boyle was remanded in custody to the prison on October 9, 2009, that when she met with him there a couple of weeks later he was depressed, displayed suicidal ideation and was moved to a strip cell so he could not harm himself.

Dr McGuire said he made "serious suicide attempts" in May and August 2009 and displayed symptoms of a severe depressive disorder.

She said he attended AA meetings in London in February 2007 and abstained from alcohol for six months, but remained depressed.

Stephen Boyle said he met his wife in 1992, and he alleged to the psychiatrist that she had had an affair before they were married, but said she promised it would never happen again, but that he received a phone call in 2002 that his wife was in a relationship.

The psychiatrist said he only spoke to Lithuanians at work as he "didn't trust anyone from home" and "couldn't trust Irish people on the site".

John Boyle, a brother of the accused, told Mr Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, that a month beforehand there had been an incident where the accused crashed his BMW into a wall "to try and do away with himself".

Sentencing is scheduled for March 12.

Sunday Independent

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