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Alleged murder victim Thomas Dooley.
Tralee

Murder trial hears how a father was stabbed multiple times in front of his children at a funeral

Thomas Dooley, 43, died following an alleged attack by multiple accused at Rathass Cemetery in Tralee on 5 October 2022.

LAST UPDATE | 4 Jun

AN ALLEGED MURDER victim suffered multiple fatal stab wounds as he was attacked in front of his four children as he attended a funeral at a cemetery in  Tralee.

Dean Kelly, SC, prosecuting, told a jury in his opening address at the trial of six men accused of the killing that Thomas Dooley, a father of seven, suffered “chop” wounds and stab wounds in the attack.

Thomas Dooley, 43, died following an alleged attack by multiple accused at Rathass Cemetery in Tralee on 5 October 2022.

The six accused of the murder, who pleaded not guilty to murder this morning are, Daniel Dooley (42) of An Carraigin, Connolly Park, Tralee, Co Kerry; Thomas Dooley Snr (42) and Thomas Dooley Jnr (20) both of the Halting Site, Carrigrohane Road, Cork; Michael Dooley (28) of the Halting Site, Carrigrohane Road, Cork; Patrick Dooley (35) of Arbutus Grove Killarney, Co Kerry and a teenager who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Thomas Dooley Jnr also pleaded not guilty to an assault, or “causing harm” to Siobhán Dooley during the same incident on 5 October 2022.

This afternoon the case began before Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring.

Kelly in his opening address told the court that one of the accused, Patrick Dooley, is the deceased man’s brother, while other accused were cousins and directly related. 

The barrister for the State said that the murder victim was “a thoroughly decent man, a loving father and husband – a motif of how he lived and perhaps died was that he put his wife and children first”.

Kelly explained to the jury that on the morning of 5 October 2022 a large crowd had attended the funeral and burial of a well local woman. 

He said there was a long cortege of cars behind a horse drawn carriage – some went directly to the cemetery and were waiting for the arrival of the remains for the burial. 

Kelly said that Thomas Dooley and his wife Siobhan arrived with four of their children and parked at a service station across from the cemetery. 

They had not gone to the church and had gone directly to the grave yard. They walked the short distance across the road and into the cemetery.  

Kelly said that in a “matter of moments” Thomas Dooley and his wife were set upon by a group of men, many of them armed with “bladed” weapons. The barrister said that the attack was carried out with “a murderous ferocity and clear murderous intent”. 

The prosecuting barrister explained that the victim suffered a range of injuries in the alleged attack which included “a number of stab wounds which contributed to his death”.  

Injuries, Kelly said, included a stab wound to his back which resulted in bone damage to his spine – the jury heard there will be evidence given that this likely caused “spinal shock” and caused him to collapse. 

He also allegedly suffered a stab wound to his thigh which Kelly said was directly to blame for his death as it severed the victim’s femoral artery. The barrister said there would also be evidence of a “chop wound” to the arm. 

The pathologist’s report, the jury were told, will also show that there was a large amount of blunt force injuries. 

In the melee the murder victim’s wife, Siobhan, was also stabbed in the back. Which is the injury associated with the causing serious harm charge for Thomas Dooley Junior.  

Aftermath

In the immediate aftermath the deceased’s wife fled with her children while her husband lay dying on the ground. 

Emergency services were called to the scene and the murder victim was taken to hospital where he was, approximately an hour later, pronounced dead. 

Kelly told the jury that it would be the State’s evidence that it was a case of joint enterprise – that the men “acted as a single criminal cabal”.

“This wasn’t a fight, it cannot and should not be described as a fight, a row, or an escalation following a petty or trivial use of force. He was attacked by a group of men with focused ferocity when they armed themselves. They set upon him and inflicted injuries of the most grievous kind,” he said. 

The barrister added that it happened in “broad daylight surrounded by people and right in front of Thomas Dooley’s four children and wife Siobhan”. Kelly said that the murder victim did not “offer insult or the slightest provocation”.

Dean Kelly also warned the jury to not be influenced by natural empathy for Siobhan Dooley and her children but also not to led by sympathy for the accused. He told them to judge the case dispassionately.  

Kelly also said that, as the men involved were members of a large Traveller family, that there was an “elephant in the room” of a potential for prejudice.

“If even one percent of your thoughts entertained such prejudice – or might edge you towards such a verdict that is not a verdict the DPP has an interest in,” he added. 

The case continues before a jury of 15 people and Judge Ring tomorrow. 

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