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Two who murdered man with screwdriver at Limerick house party fail to have convictions overturned

The two were found guilty of the murder of Shane Murphy on 30 April, 2015.
Nov 9th 2020, 4:02 PM 22,690 6

TWO LIMERICK MEN who murdered a man at a house-party using a screwdriver and a knife have failed in their attempt to have their convictions overturned on appeal.

Dylan Hayes (25) with a last address at The Crescent, Kilteragh in Dooradoyle and Gerard Hogan (37) with a last address at Raheen Square in Ballinacurra Weston were both found guilty of the murder of Shane Murphy on 30 April, 2015.

The deceased, of The Grove, Pallasgreen in Co Limerick, died from a stab wound to the heart, and also suffered multiple penetrating injuries to the trunk and upper arms.

In May 2017, trial judge Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy imposed the mandatory life sentence on both men.

Evidence was given during the case that Hayes had confronted the deceased at a house party in Pallasgreen, asking him: “Did you call me a junkie?”.

Hayes believed that the deceased had been talking about him, saying that he was doing heroin at the house in Pallasgreen earlier the same week.

Hayes told gardaí that the deceased responded: “Yeah, I did. What are you going to do about it?”

It was at this point, according to Hayes’ statements to gardaí, that he went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and came back to the sitting room where he began stabbing the deceased repeatedly in the chest, stomach, arms and legs.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan said one of the stab wounds pierced the heart of the deceased, while others had damaged both lungs and the liver.

Defence wounds to his hands suggested that he had tried to protect himself as Hayes wielded the knife.

The case in relation to Hogan was that he was involved in a joint enterprise with Hayes to murder the deceased.

One witness at the house said she saw Hogan attack and stab the deceased with Hayes. She also said that Hogan and Hayes were saying “get him, get him” as they “egged” each other on.

Joint intention to kill

Delivering his charge, the judge told a jury that they could find the accused men guilty of murder if the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that they had formed a joint intention to kill or cause serious injury to the deceased.

Hayes’ barrister Mark Nicholas argued before the appellate court last May that the judge’s charge on provocation was deficient as the jury was not properly instructed.

The senior counsel said there was no explanation by the judge to the jurors of the requirement to assess the accused’s actions subjectively as well as in a clear and usable form.

Hogan’s lawyer, Michael Bowman, appealed his client’s conviction on a number of grounds. The barrister argued that the prosecution had relied upon both words spoken and acts carried out by Hogan including attacking the deceased with a screwdriver.

It was open to the jury to conclude that Hogan did not stab the deceased as the pathologist testified that the injuries to deceased were caused by a knife and not a screwdriver, he said.

He also argued that if the jury so concluded, then they needed to be directed specifically as to whether they could rely on words which were attributed to Hogan as encouragement to the co-accused, and also whether the words amounted to a communication of an intent to kill or cause serious harm.

Furthermore, Bowman also submitted that the trial judge had also refused a defence requisition to charge the jury in relation to the ability of a party to withdraw from a common design or joint enterprise.

Issue of provocation

In a judgement returned electronically today, President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy and Ms Justice Una Ní Raifeartaigh, said nothing that the trial judge said in relation to the issue of provocation could be seen as putting the jury wrong and his treatment of the issue was adequate.

The judge said that when the trial judge’s charge was viewed as a whole, it did not appear objectionable.

“It repeatedly emphasised that all matters required to be proved had to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, obviously this included that the words were spoken by Gerard Hogan with the intention of “egging on” the co-accused and so this ground of appeal fails,” he explained.

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The judge said that the three-judge Court of Appeal agreed with the trial judge that there was insufficient, if any, evidence in the case suggesting a withdrawal from a joint enterprise which would have required or justified a charge directed to this issue.

The Court was satisfied that the ground of appeal must fail, he added.

In summary, the judge highlighted that the three-judge panel had not been persuaded to uphold any ground of appeal advanced by either appellant and would accordingly dismiss the appeal.

Last May, Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Orla Crowe, argued in her submissions that four persons present in the house had witnessed the murder and each of them had implicated both appellants in the attack on the deceased.

One of these witnesses had given very clear evidence to the trial of a physical and verbal engagement by both defendants on the deceased, she said, and pointed out that this went to the common design element of the offence.

She added that “science” had not removed Hogan from the physical attack on the deceased.

Regarding the charge of provocation, the barrister said the trial judge had given a very clear outline to the jury of the defence of provocation and made it entirely clear that the test was subjective.

The jurors could not have been under any misconception in relation to the law, she submitted.

Crowe explained that counsel for Hogan had suggested that his client had either not fully participated in the attack or withdrawn from it but she said this had not been borne out by the witnesses who heard and saw what was happening in the room at the time.

She emphasised that this was a “classic case” of joint enterprise and common design and there was no evidence in the case that Hogan had withdrawn from the joint enterprise.

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Alison O'Riordan

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