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Dublin: 4 °C Thursday 24 January, 2019

Limerick man cleared of murder but found guilty of the manslaughter of 'annoying' beggar

The jury took less than four hours to reach a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

A LIMERICK MAN has been cleared of murder but found guilty of the manslaughter of an “annoying” beggar, whom he stabbed after going to the deceased’s home with a knife to “stop him demanding money”.

Desmond Coyle told those who restrained him afterwards that he hoped his victim was dead and that he had deserved it. He later told gardaí that if he had “stopped fucking annoying me, it wouldn’t have happened”.

The 60-year-old of Davis Street in the city was on trial at the Central Criminal Court, charged with murdering Calo Carpaci at lunchtime on 24 May 2017. He had pleaded not  guilty to the 58-year-old’s murder at Roche’s Row, where Carpaci had lived.

Mr Justice Michael White told the jury that there were various possible grounds on which it could find him guilty of manslaughter, rather than murder: self-defence, lack of intent to kill or seriously injure the Romanian, or gross negligence.

The jury took less than four hours to reach a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.

‘I’ve stabbed him’

The trial heard that Coyle had spent that morning drinking in early houses in the city. He was then captured on CCTV footage arriving on Roche’s Row and approaching Mr Carpaci’s front door and going inside for 13 seconds.

The footage next showed a scuffle between the two outside, with Carpaci’s nephew and his nephew’s partner then tackling the accused, before passersby stepped in and restrained him.

Neither his nephew nor his partner gave evidence but the passersby, described as good citizens by the defence, both gave evidence.

Eamon Hayes testified that Coyle had said: “I’ve stabbed him. I’m out of here.”

Eric Hackett recalled the accused saying: “I hope he’s dead. He deserves it. There’s history.”

Coyle told gardaí that he’d gone there that day to “stop him demanding money off me” and “making smart-alecky comments”.

He did not know why he had chosen that particular day and said that he didn’t remember going or bringing the knife. However, he said that he “must have” brought it.

“He opened the door and came out very fast. That’s all I remember,” he said in a garda interview. “He had fallen down and was bleeding.”

He was asked why he was bleeding.

“Because the knife obviously went into him,’ he replied. “I had the knife in my hand. I don’t know if he came onto it or I put it in him.”

It was put to him that the reality was that, if he hadn’t gone there with the knife, the man would still be alive.

“I understand,” he replied. “I know the reality is that if he had stopped fucking annoying me, it wouldn’t have happened either.”

Stab wound

The jury also heard from Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis, who had carried out the post-mortem exam on the deceased.

He gave the cause of his death as a single stab wound to the chest, which had penetrated and gone all the way through the heart.

The prosecutor last week urged the jury to convict Mr Coyle, who had “trespassed” into Carpaci’s house with the knife that killed him, before confessing: “I stabbed him in the chest.”

The defence barrister argued that he had gone there to confront him and did not have the intention for murder when he grappled with the deceased.

Mr Justice White charged the jurors, telling them that there were three possible verdicts open to them: guilty, not guilty, or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

He explained that there were various types of manslaughter.

“Manslaughter is a very wide type of offence. It can move from gross negligence at the lower end to very close to murder,” he said.

He said that one type of involuntary manslaughter was an unlawful and dangerous act that led to death, but where the accused did not intend to kill or cause serious injury.

“A more unlikely scenario is gross negligence manslaughter,” he added.

“In this particular trial, on the account given by Mr Coyle, he has made the case that his actions were not deliberate, it was possibly an accident,” he said.

The judge also said that self-defence had been raised as a possible defence in the case. He explained that this could be a complete defence, resulting in an acquittal. It could also be a partial defence, resulting in a verdict of manslaughter if excessive force was used.

The jury spent just under four hours deliberating, before returning with a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.

Mr Justice White asked Anthony Sammon SC, prosecuting, if a victim impact statement was required.

“Difficulties arise in relation to the family that you’ve heard,” he replied. “Rather than impose any burdens on the investigating officers…”

Mr Justice White said they would “just leave it” and remanded Coyle in custody for sentencing on 21 January next.

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About the author:

Natasha Reid

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