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Garda's son cleared of murdering drug dealer

THE body-in-boot killer is the son of a serving garda.

Stephen Penrose (27), was convicted of killing a 28-year-old man while trying to steal heroin from him.

His father Paul joined the gardai as a mechanic in the early 1980s and now works as a driver in Transport Details in HQ in the Phoenix Park.

Paul Penrose gave evidence in the trial, telling the court that his son rang him asking for a lift on the night of the killing.

Mr Penrose Snr described his son as having a "very serious" substance abuse problem at the time of the killing.

Stephen Penrose was accused of murdering David Sharkey, whose body was found in the boot of his own car in an isolated Dublin laneway.

He has been cleared of the murder but has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Penrose, of no fixed abode, had denied murdering Mr Sharkey in Navan in May of last year.

He admitted manslaughter but the DPP rejected the plea and the murder trial lasted seven days at the Central Criminal Court.

In his own evidence to the trial, Penrose told the jury that he had only planned to rob heroin from Mr Sharkey, as he had become addicted to the drug following the death of his baby girl.

He said the plan went wrong after Mr Sharkey produced a knife and demanded his drugs back when Penrose failed to pay.

He stabbed Mr Sharkey 13 times on the stairwell of an apartment at Parkview, Blackcastle in Navan on the evening of May 17, 2009.

During the trial, the court heard that Penrose admitted to gardai to texting the dead man's partner, Joleen Smyth, from Mr Sharkey's mobile phone after he had killed him.

Penrose told the jury that he was involved in a "drugs relationship" with a woman and had been staying with her at the apartment in Parkview.

Penrose said it was her idea to get Mr Sharkey to come to the apartment with an ounce of heroin, and then rob the drugs once they'd been handed over. Penrose was to produce the knife to convince Mr Sharkey to let him run off.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of the accused buying the knife in Tesco in Navan on the afternoon in question. While in the store, he received a text saying Mr Sharkey was ready to do the deal.

Penrose replied saying "get him to wait till six o'clock...den I be ready for him".

Prosecuting lawyer, Mr Paul Green, told the jury that this "cast a shadow over his unsustainable position that this was all a terrible mistake".

In his account, Penrose said that after Mr Sharkey arrived at the apartment and the heroin was handed over, he tried to get out the door saying he had to get money from his car.

But Mr Sharkey took out a knife and came towards him swiping it at his face. Penrose produced his own knife and stabbed Mr Sharkey.

Afterwards, Penrose cleaned up the scene, "stuck" the body in the boot of the dead man's BMW and drove to Dunsink Lane in Finglas. Penrose was followed by gardai who happened to be on patrol in the lane, and ended up abandoning the car before fleeing the scene.

Penrose is due to be sentenced for manslaughter on July 5.