A drug addict who killed a 28-year-old drug dealer in a botched robbery will be sentenced for his manslaughter later this month.
Father-of-three Steven Penrose (aged 27) of no fixed abode, but formerly of Blanchardstown, Dublin, stabbed David Sharkey 13 times as he delivered heroin to him in Navan.
The Central Criminal Court heard today that Mr Sharkey, also a father, was the second member of his family to be stabbed to death.
A jury found Penrose not guilty of murder following a seven-day trial in May, but guilty of manslaughter to which he had pleaded. He was before Mr Justice Paul Carney today for sentencing.
Sergeant Alan Brady told Paul Greene SC, prosecuting, that two gardaí stopped a BMW on Dunsink Lane in Finglas on the night of May 17, 2009. The driver gave what turned out to be a fake name and drove on. He was followed by the gardaí and abandoned the car in a halting site.
When the gardaí looked into the boot of the car, they found a dead body. A fingerprint on a bag of blood-stained clothes in the boot led them to Steven Penrose, who was known to Navan gardaí. He was arrested the following day and immediately accepted his involvement in the killing the previous day.
Penrose said he asked Mr Sharkey to bring an ounce of heroin for sale to an apartment at Parkview, Blackcastle in Navan. He said he intended to steal the heroin, but that things got out of hand when Mr Sharkey arrived. He said Mr Sharkey produced a knife, a struggle ensued and he lost control.
The trial jury was shown CCTV footage of Mr Sharkey arriving at the apartment at 8.30pm on May 17 and Penrose leaving 10 minutes later.
It showed him reverse Mr Sharkey’s BMW to the front door and remove from the building something heavy and disguised. Sgt Brady agreed that this was likely to have been Mr Sharkey’s body.
Penrose then drove to Dunsink Lane, where he was stopped by gardaí.
“He claimed his intention was to burn out the car there,” said the sergeant, confirming that this was to include burning Mr Sharkey’s remains.
During his time in the car he used his victim’s phone to send deflective text messages to the man’s girlfriend.
Other CCTV footage was shown to the jury, showing the defendant buying a long-bladed kitchen knife at 3pm that day. Gardai later found a knife buried in waste ground near Blackcastle.
Sgt Brady said Penrose had 23 previous convictions for assault, possession of knives, drug possession, obstruction, handling stolen property along with public order and road-traffic offences. He had been addicted to drugs and estranged from his family for some years
Sgt Brady agreed with Patrick Marrinan SC, defending, that his client was living hand-to-mouth out of a car and tent when he committed the offence. He was committing crime to finance his drug addiction.
He agreed that Penrose was from a respectable family and was 22 when first convicted of a crime.
Detective Inspector Colin Fox read a victim impact statement on behalf of Mr Sharkey’s mother, Ann Sharkey.
She said her son was a hard worker, a loving brother and close to his siblings.
She said her family never saw the drug-dealing side of her son described during the trial. He lived in rented accommodation and they still got calls from the hire purchase company about payments on his BMW.
“David had no conviction for drugs,” she said. “We didn’t know this side of him.”
She said two young girls were now growing up without their father, one of whom was born five months after his death.
She said her son was "treated like an animal" in having his body dumped in the boot of his own car in preparation for burning.
She also mentioned that it was not the first time tragedy had struck her family in this way.
“Our son, Simon, was also killed unlawfully in a knife attack,” she said.
“My husband and I feel we’re living a life sentence ourselves,” she added. “I’ve no doubt we’ll never get over the loss.”
D Insp Fox confirmed that Mr Sharkey was not a big drug dealer, "definitely not a drug lord or drug baron".
Mr Marrinan told the judge that his client had led a normal life until his girlfriend gave birth to a still-born child.
“He started taking drugs, then heroin, and descended into a very dark world … into blackness,” he said.
He said that his client had associated with people that he would not otherwise have. It was in that context that the crime was committed, he said.
Mr Justice Carney will pass sentence later this month.