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burglary trial

Trial hears how singer Mary Coughlan was warned that burglar in her Wicklow home had a knife

Darren Carton (41) has pleaded not guilty to the offences.

A TRIAL HAS heard how the well-known singer, Mary Coughlan, was warned that an intruder had a knife after arriving back to find a burglary in progress at her Wicklow home almost two years ago.

A jury at Wicklow Circuit Criminal Court heard the blues singer describe how her partner, John Kelly, and son-in-law, Ciarán Farrelly, attempted to catch the burglar before he escaped from the area.

Darren Carton (41) of Carraigoona Close, Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow has pleaded not guilty to the burglary of Ms Coughlan’s home at Barchuilla Commons, Kilmacanogue on January 9, 2021.

The accused has also pleaded not guilty to a charge of threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Mr Farrelly and to a separate offence of criminal damage to a sliding door of Ms Coughlan’s house on the same occasion.

The singer was not required to attend court to give evidence and her witness statement to gardaí was read into the record by counsel for the DPP, James Kelly BL.

Counsel for the defendant, Justin McQuade BL, said he had agreed not to cross-examine Ms Coughlan in ease of the witness and the prosecution.

In the statement, Ms Coughlan said she had left her home with her partner at around 3pm on the day of the burglary.

As they were returning back to the house at around 4.55pm and approaching the property, she said she got a call from her son-in-law who informed her someone had attempted to break into his house which adjoins her own home.

When they pulled up in their car, Ms Coughlan said to her partner to go help Mr Farrelly.

She said she heard her partner shout out: “They’re here. They’re here” as he was going towards Mr Farrelly’s house and called for her to alert her son-in-law.

Moments later, Ms Coughlan said she saw Mr Farrelly come from around the side of her house asking her to phone the gardai and warning her that the intruder had a knife.

The singer said Mr Kelly went after the intruder but fell to the ground.

She recalled her son-in-law running past Mr Kelly after the male and there was “some fighting”.

“It all happened so fast,” Ms Coughlan remarked.

She said that she had not given anyone permission to enter her property, take items or cause damage to it.

In evidence, Mr Kelly said he noticed a sliding door to a bedroom in Ms Coughlan’s home had been pulled off its rails after arriving back at the property.

Mr Kelly said he went around to enter the house by the front door and found drawers had been pulled out of a dresser with the bedroom “in disarray”.

“It looked like somebody turned over the place,” he observed.

Mr Kelly said he heard Mr Farrelly come into the house and go into another bedroom before hearing his partner’s son-in-law remark: “What the f**k are you doing?”

He heard the sound of a struggle but the intruder and Mr Farrelly had separated by the time he got there.

Mr Kelly said he heard the intruder warn Mr Farrelly: “I’ve got a knife and I’m going to stab you.”

He felt the burglar looked “dazed” which he believed was due to fighting with Mr Farrelly.

The court heard he then gave chase to try and stop the burglar, who had hopped out a bedroom window, from getting away.

Mr Kelly said he followed the male into a field and grabbed a hold of his jacket as they struggled.

He recalled the man mumbling about being a lookout which he believed was an attempt to distract him as he had not seen anyone else.

Mr Kelly said he got caught in brambles as he tried to chase after the intruder but Mr Farrelly caught him and pushed him up against a parked van before he managed to get away through a neighbouring property in the direction of Kilmacanogue.

He recalled Mr Farrelly had taken his mobile phone out to take a short video of the man.

Under cross-examination, Mr Kelly said he had never been asked by gardaí to identify the accused.

At the start of the hearing on Friday, Mr Farrelly told the trial that he was driving in Kilmacanogue on the day after the incident with his wife and two children when he noticed a man at a bus stop on the N11 who seemed to be wearing the same trousers and trainers as the intruder.

Mr Farrelly said he turned the car around to pass the location again and on a third passing recorded brief video footage with his phone of the male.

He said he thought it was the same man who was in his mother-in-law’s house as he also had two black eyes.

Asked about his reaction to being threatened with a knife, Mr Farrelly said he didn’t think the burglar was messing.

“It was a serious threat,” he added.

Mr Farrelly gave evidence last week that he had never seen any weapon with the intruder.

Under cross-examination, he agreed with Mr McQuade that he was fairly certain “but not 100 per cent” that the intruder was the same person as an individual captured getting on a bus at Kilmacanogue.

The trial before Judge Patrick Quinn and a jury of six women and six men will continue on Tuesday.

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Seán McCárthaigh