Prosecution counsel in the Mitchelstown murder trial told the jury there was ample evidence for a guilty verdict but the defence said the jury could not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt as there was “doubt all over the place”.
Michael Dineen aged 28, of Ard Mhuileann, Mitchelstown, denies the charge of murdering 36-year-old Patrick Ginty O’Donnell at Willie Andies bar on New Square, Mitchelstown, on June 1, 2018. He admits being guilty of manslaughter, not guilty of murder.
Prosecution senior counsel Tim O’Leary asked of the accused in his closing speech, “Was he defending himself? We do see (on CCTV from the pub that night) the deceased jumping up and punching or pretend punching – I don’t think he makes any connection.”
Mr O’Leary said that in the course of his interviews with gardaí the accused man said the defendant hit him first and then he punched him two digs.
However, the prosecution senior counsel said that when the defendant was arrested at his home late that night and brought to the local garda station what he said to the gardaí in relation to the deceased was that, “He tried to hit me.”
Mr O’Leary repeated a number of times this response: “He tried to hit me”, and said this was what Michael Dineen said originally on the way to the station.
Mr O’Leary said Dineen later spoke of the deceased hitting him first. The prosecution lawyer said that even if the jury believed the deceased hit the accused first they still had to ask what was reasonable in terms of self-defence?
“I think again from the evidence that the force used is completely unreasonable. . . The defence say it was always self-defence but the facts don’t bear that out.”
In relation to the accused saying sorry, Mr O’Leary said, “’Sorry’ after the event does not cut it. In my respectful view – sorry to say this but – a lot of the time he is sorry for himself.
“He (the accused) checked him (on the floor of the pub). He was still breathing – ‘I thought he was grand’ – so off he goes and everyone else is trying to keep him alive, to get the blood out of his throat.
“I am sure he would not have done it if he was not drunk, there was no premeditation and no plan. The intention to cause serious injury arises instantaneously… It is hard to imagine a more straightforward case of intention to cause serious injury… It was a vicious beating. He puts it forward as two slaps. I think it is cod – he would say that wouldn’t he. I think there is ample evidence to convict this man of murder."
Defence senior counsel Brendan Grehan said, “It is not a murder case. What happened on that fateful day was having way too much drink. He met with his friend Paddy O’Donnell. Without there being any background, any animosity, he ends up killing him after a bar room fight.
“In a murder case, someone plans it, someone lays in wait, shoots him dead, drives away and burns out the car. In this case there is no pre-meditation, there is no weapon, there is no reason for Mr Dineen to have killed Paddy.
“This just blew up out of absolutely nothing. Murder is the intentional taking of someone’s life – it is not the stuff of the bar room brawl. It is obviously over something stupid like this.
“The deceased man got a pretty bad beating. There is no escaping it. There was a frenzied attack with both fists to his face. It (row over a pint) is typical of the kind of misunderstanding that can occur when you have a lot of drink on board.
“Can you be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he intended to kill or cause serious injury. I am suggesting there is doubt all over the place in relation to that.”
Mr Grehan reminded the jury of six men and six women at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork of the eye witness descriptions of the accused assaulting the deceased, that he was: “out of control”; “like a lunatic”; “like a man possessed”; and “not in control of himself”.
Concluding his speech, Mr Grehan SC said: “There is not sufficient evidence of intent. We say the verdict should be manslaughter.”
Mr Justice Alexander Owens will address the jury tomorrow before they commence their deliberations.