Friday 18 October 2019

Manslaughter verdict after one punch death outside Kanturk bar

Jonathan O'Sullivan now faces sentencing hearing on February 28

Found guilty of manslaughter, Jonathan O’Sullivan
Found guilty of manslaughter, Jonathan O’Sullivan

A 28 year old North Corkman has been found guilty of manslaughter and remanded on bail for sentence over the death of a 65 year old man whom he struck with a single punch outside a bar in Kanturk.

Jonathan O'Sullivan from Kanturk, but living at Birchfield Park, Goatstown, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Finbarr Lehane at the Stand Bar, the Square, Kanturk on October 23/24, 2016.

But this Wednesday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, a jury of nine men and three women found him guilty by a majority 11-1 decision of the unlawfully killing of Mr Lehane, a musician from Glen South in Banteer. The jury had spent three hours 41 minutes deliberating in the case.

Mr Lehane died in Cork University Hospital on November 7, 2016, some two weeks after suffering serious head injuries in the assault which happened outside the pub in Kanturk.

During the trial, which ran for three days at the Anglesea Street Courthouse, the jury heard evidence from Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster, who said the cause of Mr Lehane's death was complicated.

However, prosecution barrister Imelda Kelly BL said that the state was not under obligation to prove that the punch thrown by O'Sullivan was the sole cause but rather that it was a real and substantial cause.

Mary Rose Grearty defence senior counsel reminded the jury of how upset the accused was when he gave brief evidence where he stated that what happened had horrendous consequences for everybody. Ms Grearty SC said that obviously the most terrible consequences were for the late Mr Lehane and his relatives.

Ms Grearty said to the jury that the issue they had to decide was whether the blow struck by O'Sullivan was objectively dangerous. "The single most important factor is, do you have a doubt about whether it was objectively dangerous? What force was used to strike the blow?" she said.

Dr Bolster agreed under cross-examination by Ms Grearty that she did not find a single mark to the face of the deceased when she examined it a fortnight after the incident in the bar. Dr Bolster also confirmed that medical notes on the late Mr Lehane's admission on the night made no reference to any mark on his face.

The late Mr Lehane was a respected musician in north Cork and was best known for his harmonica and spoons playing. He lived at Glen South, Banteer with his wife, and had five adult children.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin adjourned sentence to allow for preparation of a Victim Impact Statement by Mr Lehane's family and he remanded O'Sullivan on bail to appear again on February 28 for sentencing.