Friday 23 August 2019

Woman (46) pleads not guilty to murder

A pathologist has told a Drogheda murder trial that 'there would be a reasonable expectation at least of survival' had the deceased received prompt attention for his stab wounds.

Other witnesses testified that there was so much blood on his bare upper body while he waited for an ambulance that they thought he was wearing a Liverpool jersey.

They were giving evidence to the Central Criminal Court in the trial of a 46-year-old woman, who is charged with murdering her boyfriend in her Drogheda home five years ago.

Paula Farrell of Rathmullen Park in the town, has pleaded not guilty to murdering 30-year-old Wayne McQuillan (right), but guilty to his manslaughter by stabbing him four times at that address on January 1, 2014.

The Deputy State Pathologist outlined the injuries he found on the deceased man's body during a post-mortem exam. Dr Michael Curtis stated that he'd died of a stab wound to his shoulder, which sliced a substantial blood vessel before going right through his lung.

He described dozens of bruises and scratches found on his face and body, some of which appeared to be fingernail scratches.

"These were all recent," he told Gerard Clarke SC, prosecuting. "They indicated a fracas or struggle."

Dr Curtis also found four stab wounds, one to the chest, one to the right upper arm and two to the front of the left shoulder.

Three of these had not hit any vital structures, but one of the wounds to the left shoulder had proved fatal. It had coursed downwards at an angle of 45 degrees.

"It sliced the left subclavian vein, the main vein that drains blood from the arm back into the chest," he said, explaining that this was a substantial blood vessel.

The pathologist said that it had then entered the left chest cavity between the first and second ribs.

The witness was then asked to examine two knives found at the scene, one larger than the other. He put on protective gloves and took the knives out of their protective cases.

While the wound to the right upper arm could have been caused by either knife, he said that 'the relatively large size of the others' would be more consistent with their infliction by the larger knife, which had a 20cm-long blade.

Dr Curtis also said that high levels of alcohol were recorded in his system.

"This is gross intoxication," he explained, describing the possible effects as diminished reflexes, being unsteady, incoordinate movements, staggering and slurred speech. "This is somebody who's very, very drunk," he added.

He said that death resulted from hemorrhage and air into the chest due to multiple stab wounds, with injuries to the left subclavian vein and left lung.

Dr Curtis was cross examined by Caroline Biggs SC, defending.

He agreed with her that putting some of the minor hand injuries together might suggest that a blow had been delivered by the deceased.

Scratches to the knee caps could be consistent with falling or being moved, he said, and those to the toe could have been caused by being lifted or knocked against something. He also agreed that some of the leg injuries were common in people with terminal collapse.

Ms Biggs asked him about the 'variable' ways that different people react to alcohol in various situations. Dr Curtis agreed that it could cause aggressive behaviour, inappropriate sexual behaviour, misreading of social cues and misinterpreting of other people's behaviour. He agreed that the level of alcohol found in the deceased could also be lethal.

He was asked about whether the fatal stab wound had been incompatible with life.

"Certain injuries are incompatible with life," he said. "Others…, with prompt attention, prompt rescue, correction of bleeding and so on, they are at least potentially survivable. This would fall into this category."

He agreed that Mr McQuillan would have stood a better chance with prompt care.

"With prompt attention, there would be a reasonable expectation at least of survival," he concluded.

The jury also heard from a number of witnesses, who came on the scene in the very early hours of that morning. Two of these had left a New Year's Eve party nearby, after hearing that someone had been stabbed.

"When I first saw him, I thought he was wearing a red Liverpool football jersey," said Colm Reynolds of the deceased. "When I got closer I realised it was all blood."

The court heard that the ambulance was so delayed in getting to the scene that the deceased was eventually taken to hospital in the back of a garda car.

Dr Marlien Mienie testified that she examined the accused in Drogheda Garda Station that New Year's afternoon.

She told Gerard Clarke SC, prosecuting, that Ms Farrell had stated that she had been suffering from schizophrenia and depression for a number of years; she said she had last taken her medication on 30th December.

The doctor said that she had then taken a note of some physical injuries on Ms Farrell.

"She had two areas of slight bruising and swelling on the left and right side of the scalp, and what appeared to be a bite mark on her right cheek," she said.

"She had a large vertical bruise on the right side of her neck, bruising and tenderness above her left collarbone," she continued.

The witness also found possible areas of bruising on both upper arms and an abrasion of her left knee. She said that they all appeared to be 'fresh injuries'.

She was cross examined by Caroline Biggs SC, defending. The witness agreed that, on foot of the apparent bite mark to her cheek, she had administered a tetanus injection and antibiotics.

Ms Farrell's daughter, Shauna Farrell, recalled that she was pregnant at the time of the killing. She testified that she had been alerted to the incident around an hour after midnight on New Year's morning. She had gone to her mother's home, where the witness's boyfriend was attending to the deceased outside on the grass.

"My Mam was at the front door," she told Mr Clarke. "I went to my Mam. She was not in a good state."

Ms Farrell said that her mother went inside and got a towel for the witness's boyfriend, who was trying to stop the bleeding.

She agreed with Ms Biggs that her mother was crying and had her hands over her face, and that she had asked the accused what she had done.

The witness agreed that she had told gardai: "She kept saying. 'He attacked me. I didn't mean it'." She had also stated that the accused was standing over the deceased, repeatedly saying: 'I'm sorry. I didn't mean it.'

The witness confirmed that she had been aware that her mother was taking medication for mental health issues at the time. She said that the whole family had also been aware that the accused had made allegations that she had suffered child abuse.

Paul Maguire testified that he and three friends were walking past the accused woman's home some time after midnight that morning.

He told Mr Clarke that someone came out the door, and said that he had been stabbed and needed an ambulance.

"He came walking out, and slipped on a patch of grass," he recalled. "I went over and shone the light on him and saw all the blood coming out." He said that he got a fright and called an ambulance.

He said that he had also seen the accused standing at the door. "She just had a towel in her hands," he said. "She was drying her hands."

He was asked if she had said anything. "She just said: 'Don't ring an ambulance'," he replied.

He agreed with Ms Biggs that he had told gardai that, when the deceased man ran out of the house, his 'trousers were around his ankles, his jocks were below his waist and his private parts were exposed'. He said that this was a correct statement. A number of other witnesses, who came on the scene later, also testified to this.

The opening speeches in the trial heard that Paula Farrell's not guilty to murdering Wayne McQuillan, but guilty to his manslaughter, was not accepted and she went on trial .

Gerard Clarke SC said that the couple had been drinking quite a lot in the house that New Year's Eve and that an argument had developed between them.

"During the course of that argument, Paula Farrell took a large kitchen knife from one of those blocks with knives, and stabbed him a total of four times," he said, explaining that the jury would see the knife in due course.

The prosecutor told the jury that there were some teenagers outside in a green area and that Mr McQuillan had shouted that he had been stabbed and asked them to call an ambulance.

"Paula Farrell came to the door and said, a witness will say, 'Don't call an ambulance'. She had a tea towel in her hands and was cleaning her hands," he stated. "It seems she went back into the house and began to clean up."

He explained that people had called both an ambulance and the gardai. However, the ambulance was about 20 minutes away so the gardai took Mr McQuillan to hospital in a garda car.

The trial continued on Monday before Ms Justice Carmel Stewart and a jury of eight women and four men.

Drogheda Independent