Defence team in murder case tells jury that Travellers can be victims of crime too

Defence team in murder case tells jury that Travellers can be victims of crime too

By Natasha Reid

The lawyer for a Traveller, charged with murdering a man he found inside his mobile home, has told his trial jury that Travellers could be victims of burglaries too and that the law provided latitude to homeowners in that situation.

Séamus Clarke SC was giving his closing speech in the Central Criminal Court trial of the 20-year-old man, accused of stabbing the man to death with half a garden shears.

The accused said that the deceased had attacked him after he’d asked him to leave, and that he picked up the nearest object and hit him with it.

Martin Keenan of Cardiffsbridge Avenue, Finglas in Dublin has pleaded not guilty to murdering Wesley Mooney (33) at St Joseph's Park halting site, Dunsink Lane, north Dublin on June 5, 2016.

Mr Clarke told the jury yesterday (Friday) that we hear a lot about rural crime, including burglaries by Travellers.

“But, crime can happen in all communities,” he said.

“Travellers can be the victims of trespass and burglaries too.”

He mentioned the Pádraig Nally case, after which a new law was enacted.

He said the Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act 2011 stated positively what the rights of a homeowner were when he believed a person had trespassed onto his property to commit a criminal act.

He also quoted Justice Adrian Hardiman, who said in a judgment that burglary was an act of aggression.

“Common knowledge will have told the homeowner that certain burglaries are committed by drug addicts, whose behaviour may be randomly vicious or wholly unpredictable,” continued the judgement.

Mr Clarke noted that his client had described the man in his home as a scary-looking junkie.

He also said that the law specified that nothing shall require the homeowner to retreat from his or her dwelling. He said that an intruder had chosen to invade a person's home and that there was latitude to the homeowner.

“Mr Keenan didn’t go home that night looking for trouble,” he said. “Trouble was waiting for him when he got home.”

He noted that his client had told gardaí: “This wasn’t meant to happen. All I wanted to was go home.”

He said there were no winners in this case.

“This is a tragedy from start to finish,” he said, asking the jury to find his client not guilty.

However, Garnet Orange SC, prosecuting, outlined a number of reasons why, he said, there was no reality to the issue of self defence.

He said that the deceased was not attacking anybody.

“That was contrived by the accused to justify what he’d done,” he said.

The prosecutor also said that the force used had been unreasonable and said there was no need or justification for the use of the weapon. He said that the accused should have just allowed Mr Mooney to pass him by.

“What was the real reason Wesley Mooney was struck?” he asked.

“This was something done in anger. The weapan, having been picked up, was going to be used. Martin Keenan was outraged because somebody had gone into his mobile home when he was not there.”

He also questioned Mr Keenan’s assertion that he had grabbed the nearest object with which to strike the deceased.

“Who, on earth, keeps something like that to hand?” he asked. “Nobody does. That is an obviously altered implement, this innocent long-handled garden shears, which becomes two deadly weapons by removing a screw from it.”

He said that the only basis on which the jury could consider an acquittal would be if satisfied he acted in a proportional manner, used no more than reasonable force and genuinely felt that he had to act in defence of himself or his wife.

“That’s simply absent from the evidence. I would submit you should utterly disregard the verdict of not guilty in this case,” he said. “The evidence more than supports a verdict of murder and I ask you to return that verdict.”

The jury has been told that it will also have the option of finding the accused not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. Mr Justice Paul Butler will begin charging the ten men and two women on Monday.

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