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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 2 June, 2020

Father-of-four died from inhalation of blood and teeth, murder trial hears

Michael Dineen (28) went on trial earlier this week for the murder of Patrick O’Donnell (36) in June 2018.

Image: Laura Hutton via

A FATHER-OF-four died from inhalation of blood and teeth after he suffered blunt force trauma to the head, a murder trial has heard.

Michael Dineen (28) of Ard Mhuileann, Mitchelstown, Co Cork went on trial earlier this week for the murder of Patrick O’Donnell (36) at Willie Andies bar in New Square in the town on 1 June 2018.

When he was arraigned on Monday at a Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork, Dineen pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty of manslaughter.

Teresa Walsh, who was working in the bar at the time of the incident, told the trial that Dineen behaved “like a lunatic”.

She heard the noise of a heavy chair in the pub and went down to investigate. There she found O’Donnell on the floor following an assault. She said that Dineen was continuing to punch him.

“I have never seen anything like this before in my life. I kept shouting at him but he wouldn’t stop. When I went down Paddy was lying on the ground and Michael was boxing him and boxing him. He (O’Donnell) wasn’t capable of defending himself.”

Walsh said that Dineen asked her for a pint of water. She gave it to him and she testified that he poured it over O’Donnell. O’Donnell did not move. She said Dineen then left the pub taking off his shirt and throwing it at the door before throwing himself on his knees and declaring that he was the “King of Mitchelstown”.

She called the emergency services.

She described O’Donnell as having been a “pleasant” man.

Postmortem examination

Meanwhile, former Chief State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy, who carried out a postmortem on the deceased, said that the death of Patrick O’Donnell was “directly related to trauma”.

She said the cause of death was inhalation of blood and teeth relating to blunt force trauma to the head.

She cited the presence of tranquilisers and alcohol in his system as being a contributing factor.

She said that had O’Donnell not been assaulted the level of alcohol and prescribed drugs in his system would have caused intoxication but not death.

Professor Cassidy didn’t find any evidence of defensive injuries with the father of four effectively being knocked unconscious and unable to defend himself. There was no evidence of bleeding around the brain.

Describing the injuries she told of severe bruising and lacerations to the deceased’s head and face.

O’Donnell incurred a broken nose, which was flattened and seven of his teeth were dislodged with severe bruising and injuries to his gums and lips. Several other of his teeth were loose in their sockets. There was bruising and lacerations to his scalp and his brain had swollen.

Professor Cassidy found two teeth lodged in his air passages, one in the upper part of his windpipe and the other where the windpipe enters the lung. Blood was discovered in the air passages.

She said O’Donnell suffered sustained severe injuries while lying on his back.

“There was blood from his mouth and nose resulting in blood at the back of his throat. The injuries were very likely due to being kicked and punched. There were grip injuries on his arms and there is no evidence to suggest the deceased attempted to defend himself.”

Drugs and alcohol

Blood and urine samples showed high levels of alcohol and prescribed tranquilizer type drugs that were within the therapeutic prescription range. The alcohol and medication would have slowed down his central nervous system inhibiting the gag reflex.

She said there was a probability that when O’Donnell fell to the ground that he would have been rendered unconscious and “would have been in a vulnerable place”.

In opening the case earlier this week Prosecution SC Tim O’Leary asked the jurors to use their life experience but not their prejudice in determining the verdict. He said that the case involved members of the Travelling community.

He said that in a situation where a person has unlawfully killed it would not be deemed murder unless the person intended to kill or cause serious injury. He stressed the onus was on the State to prove same.

The case will continue before the jury and Justice Alexander Owens tomorrow.

It was initially expected to last two weeks but it will now involve a reduced number of witnesses given the admission made at the arraignment.

Comments are closed as legal proceedings are ongoing

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About the author:

Olivia Kelleher

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