Jury rejects claim boyfriend was ‘too drunk’ to form intent to murder
Murder victim Amanda Carroll had described boyfriend Sean Nolan as the "love of my life" on social media just days before he strangled her.
A jury at the Central Criminal Court yesterday found electrician Nolan (36) guilty of murdering Ms Carroll (36) at her apartment in Cabra, north Dublin, on October 21, 2018.
The court heard he attacked her after she called him by the name of her ex-boyfriend and told him she never loved him.
Only days before the killing, Nolan had posted a series of photos of Ms Carroll online, saying he loved her.
He added that he was "in the right place now" and apologised for past behaviour.
Ms Carroll posted under the pictures, saying Nolan was the "love of my life".
After being congratulated by a pal, she wrote: "Tanks hun he's the best."
Days later, Nolan turned on her at the flat in Homestead Court.
He strangled her and then fled. He later told gardaí he had put his hand on her neck and mouth "to get her to shut up".
Nolan will be given a mandatory life sentence next Wednesday.
The Central Criminal Court jury found him guilty yesterday of murdering his partner of four months in her bedroom after a "binge" drinking session.
The panel of six men and six women rejected the defence team's contention by a majority verdict that what had happened to Ms Carroll was an "accidental death".
Defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC had asked for a verdict of manslaughter on the grounds of lack of intent due to alcohol intoxication.
Instead, the jury accepted the State's case that there could be no doubt Nolan intended to kill or cause serious injury when he put his hand around Ms Carroll's neck for 20 seconds.
In his closing speech, prosecution counsel Shane Costelloe SC argued that drunken intent was still an intent, and someone can decide in a split second to kill or cause serious injury when they have alcohol taken.
Evidence was given that the couple went on a "binge drinking session" that started early in the day and continued at different locations throughout Dublin into the night.
The accused and Ms Carroll were involved in a road traffic collision a few hours before she was killed, and both fled the scene before being intercepted.
Nolan's bloods were taken as there was a concern he was drink-driving or drug-driving and Ms Carroll was arrested for a public order offence and had to be handcuffed after striking out at gardaí.
After being detained in Mountjoy garda station for a couple of hours, their drinking session resumed.
When the couple returned to Ms Carroll's apartment, Nolan put one hand on the mother-of-two's neck and the other over her mouth after she called him by the name of her ex-boyfriend, said she never loved him and tried to hit him.
"I was angry. I just wanted her to go asleep and stop," Nolan told gardaí.
He said he knew she was dead when he woke up in her bed the next morning and had "just panicked" before he ran out of the apartment.
Ms Carroll's body was discovered the following afternoon by her then 16-year-old son Denis Carroll, who had left the house earlier in the morning to play football, not knowing his mother was dead.
He told the court he could see she was not breathing, and added: "I could see her cheek was puffy and she was cold. I knew I was not going to see her again."
Gardaí found Nolan on a north Dublin street after they identified the body of Ms Carroll, with the accused saying the pair had argued and he thought he had "choked her until she passed out" before falling asleep.
The defendant said he had "freaked" and spent the day walking around.
When he was arrested on the Navan Road, Nolan said "I probably killed her" when told of Ms Carroll's death.
He also gestured to the arresting officer how he had put his hand on her neck and over her mouth "to get her to shut up".
Assistant state pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster testified that Ms Carroll died from compression of her neck and mouth, which was complicated by the ingestion of sedative-type drugs.
Ethanol, Diazepine, sleeping tablets, alcohol, antidepressants and cocaine were detected in her system.
Dr Bolster pointed out that death could not have happened without asphyxia, but the drugs consumed had an added effect.
The 12 jurors found Nolan guilty of murder by a majority verdict of 10-2.
They had deliberated for eight hours and eight minutes over five days. Mr Justice Michael MacGrath exempted them from jury service for 10 years.
Nolan did not react when the verdict was delivered. Members of Ms Carroll's family said "Yes" when it was readout.
Mr Justice MacGrath will hand down the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment on November 4.
He remanded Nolan in custody until that date and directed the preparation of a victim impact report by Ms Carroll's family.