A MURDER trial has heard that the cause of death of Cavan mother of four, Patricia Kierans, was a shotgun injury to the chest.
Oliver Kierans (57) of Drumbannon, Bailieborough in Cavan has pleaded not guilty to murdering Patricia Kierans (54) on September 5, 2013 at the same address.
He also pleaded not guilty to unlawful possession of a 12 gauge double barrel shotgun and not guilty to possession of the same shotgun with intent to endanger life.
Taking to the stand yesterday, State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy confirmed with Michael O'Higgins SC prosecuting that she had attended the Kierans family home in Bailieborough on September 6, 2013.
Reading from a report, Professor Cassidy told the court that she observed a "single shot to the chest" of Patricia Kierans.
"I noted the body of an adult female of slim build with a 4.5 centimetre irregular hole on the upper front part of the body. There was blood over the right half of the face, the right side of the neck and a shotgun injury to the right upper chest, two centimeters below the collar bone."
"The wound measured 4.5cm across by 5.5cm down and the margin of the hole was irregular almost like the petals of a flower."
"The first and third ribs were fragmented and there were 500 milliliters of blood in the chest cavity. There was a shotgun wound to the upper right lung and damage to the lower part of the left lung."
"There were entry and exit wounds to the sac of the heart but otherwise, her heart had been healthy."
"This woman was found dead in the family home lying in a pool of blood with a single shot to the chest. The injuries were of such severity that death would have been almost immediate."
"The cause of her death was a shotgun injury to the chest which could have been shot from a distance of 1.2 metres or 4 feet. The pellets were mainly travelling slightly downwards through the body."
Under cross examination by Anthony Sammon SC defending, Professor Cassidy confirmed how the distance from the gun to the wound had been calculated.
"When the pellets are discharged, they stay together as a mass. As they travel through the air, pellets move away from each other and fan out."
"We can use the appearance of the hole on the body to see whether there was clustering which gives us an idea of what the distance was from the gun."
Taking to the stand yesterday, Detective Garda Oliver Flaherty read a series of text messages sent from one mobile phone which had been identified as that of the accused to Patricia Kierans phone the day before she was found dead at the family home.
The court heard previously from the sister of the deceased that she had seen the accused holding her sister's mobile phone on the afternoon of September 5 at The Square bar in Bailieborough.
The jury were told that the mobile phone of the accused had been recovered by gardai in the coldroom of The Courthouse Bar in Bailieborough.
The first text message read from a phone identified as that of the accused, was sent on September 4, 2013 and said "I will do anything you want love". A second message sent from the phone of the accused said "We can sort this out love - I want you to come to Australia with me - love you to bits."
In a reply sent from Patricia Kierans phone to the accused at 11.34am, a message was read to the jury saying "sorry, no I don't want to be with you anymore - please do not text me or ring - I have made up my mind - it is over."
The court heard that a text message sent from the phone of the accused at 12.01pm on the same day to the phone of Patricia Kierans read "Poor Julia can't believe you made love to another man so quick".
Garda Sharon Langan of the Garda Ballistics section told Mr O'Higgins about a test she carried out on the 12-gauge double barrel shotgun to determine the amount of pressure that would need to be applied to the trigger in order for it to function.
Garda Langan said that she found that out of the two triggers, the front trigger would require more force to be applied and that the pressure needed for the back trigger was acceptable.
Under cross examination by Mr Sammon, Garda Langan confirmed that when a colleague of hers had dropped the same gun from a height of two feet that both barrels had discharged.
The trial continues tomorrow before Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly and a jury of five women and seven men.