Dead man suffered 30 knife injuries, six of them 'deep and fatal'

by Alison O'Riordan

The trial of a man charged with murdering a father-of-one in north Dublin has heard that the deceased suffered 30 knife injuries, six of which were deep and fatal.

Chief State Pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy, today gave evidence in the Central Criminal Court trial of Andrew Gibney.

State Pathologist Marie Cassidy

Mr Gibney (25) of Dromheath Avenue, Mulhuddart, Dublin 15 has pleaded not guilty to murdering Gerard Burnett (28) at Castlecurragh Vale, Mulhuddart, Dublin 15 on August 21, 2012.

Dr Cassidy told prosecuting counsel Vincent Heneghan SC that she carried out a post mortem examination on Mr Burnett’s body on August 22, which had been found in the porch of his house at Castlecurragh Vale.

She said the cause of death was multiple stabs wounds and blood loss due to injuries to the right lung, heart and liver.

The witness testified that there were six stab wounds to the right side of Mr Burnett’s chest, all of which had penetrated deeply, causing internal injuries to his right lung, heart and liver.

In her evidence, Dr Cassidy said that these six fatal stab wounds were very similar in terms of size, shape and depth and could have been caused by a broad-bladed knife with a sharp tip and a single cutting edge.

There were 10 stab wounds to his back but they were mainly shallow wounds, she said.

Dr Cassidy said there were multiple small abrasions to the right side of Mr Burnett’s face and these were caused by contact with broken glass.

The witness agreed with counsel that no alcohol was detected in his body but prescription drugs were present.

In conclusion, Dr Cassidy said that there were 30 knife injuries to Mr Burnett’s body, the majority being stab wounds, but only six stab wounds had deeply penetrated the skin.

“The fatal injuries were the penetrating stab wounds to the front of the trunk which injured his right lung, heart and liver,” she said.

Dr Cassidy said that the multiplicity of Mr Burnett’s injuries suggest that there had been a struggle and he had been attacked by more than one assailant with a knife. The majority of the stab wounds had been inflicted by a knife with a single sharp edge, she added.

Injuries to Mr Burnett's right hand suggested he had tried to defend himself, the court heard.

Dr Cassidy said death would not have been immediate and Mr Burnett would have been capable of struggling with an assailant after being injured.

Under cross examination by Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, she confirmed that it was likely the wounds were inflicted by two different types of knives and possibly three.

She agreed with the defence that in dynamic situations such as this, a person can think they are stabbing a particular place on the body but if that person moves the blade may penetrate another part of the body.

The jury also heard Anne-marie Corbett, who lived at Castlecurragh Vale, give evidence. She said she was working on a computer in an upstairs bedroom of her home on the night of the incident when she heard a noise on the road. “It sounded like thudding and someone getting hit,” she said.

Shortly afterwards she said she heard someone say “Denise, Denise” and saw three men running diagonally across the road. Ms Corbett said she saw one of the men with something in his hand and they were running in the direction of the main road.

Her husband David Corbett testified that he heard a commotion outside on the night, which sounded like an argument. As soon as he opened the front door he saw three men running towards the main road.

Mr Corbett said that two other men then ran by, one of who had tight red hair and it looked like he was holding a glass or a bottle in his left hand.

The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Paul Butler and a jury of five men and seven women. It is expected to last up to three weeks.

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