Gardaí were unable to secure evidence, murder trial hears

A murder trial has heard that gardaí were unable to secure CCTV evidence, which the accused wanted to help defend his case.

Detective Garda Michael Tynan of Ballyfermot Garda Station was giving evidence in the trial of a Dublin man charged with murder and causing serious injury.

Martin Toland of Walkinstown Park has pleaded not guilty to murdering 28-year-old Alan Nolan and seriously injuring James Carroll (now 32) at Cedar Brook Walk, Ballyfermot, Dublin.

The 36-year-old, who is missing half a lung, claims that he was acting in self-defence when he stabbed both men at Mr Nolan’s home on September 8, 2007.

D Gda Tynan today told the Central Criminal Court that he began to search the area for CCTV within hours of the stabbings that Saturday morning.

He said his team could see cameras and eventually found a corresponding hard drive in a play school.

He said the team did not speak to the company in charge before disconnecting the system and bringing it back to the garda station.

“We couldn’t access it or get the programme up and running,” he testified. “We got back to the company monitoring it. They were unable to open it.”

He said this company then sent it to its parent company in England, which said the CCTV was corrupted.

He agreed with Diarmaid McGuinness SC, defending Mr Toland, that he now knows that one of the cameras covered the front door of Mr Nolan’s apartment. Mr McGuinness had already explained that his client was eager to get the footage to prove that he did not go outside the door, as had been suggested.

D Gda Tynan said he did not consider sending the hard drive to garda computer experts.

“We were of the opinion that the owner company would have been better able to deal with it,” he said.

He accepted that the gardaí did not get the names of the controllers working in the CCTV monitoring room at the time of the stabbings. He could not explain why he did not take statements from them.

“I’ll accept we should have done it,” he said.

The jury was also shown Mr Nolan’s phone records from the hours before he died, after Mr Toland said a series of phone calls led to the fatal row around 6am.

Sergeant Colm Kelly said there was a large amount of communication between Mr Nolan and his ex-girlfriend. He agreed with Mr McGuinness that the text messages were hostile and ended at 2.50am.

He agreed that both Mr Toland and Mr Carroll had referred to Mr Nolan taking a phone call that aggravated him later than this.

Detectives searched his records and found that Mr Carroll had phoned Mr Nolan more than a dozen times between 5.21am and 5.47am. Mr Carroll previously testified to turning off his caller ID and secretly making these ‘hang-up’ calls to Mr Nolan.

Between some of these calls, Mr Nolan made several calls to a person, who gardaí tracked. This person confirmed that he had received the calls, but said he did not know Mr Nolan or why he was ringing him and being abusive.

The calls ended with Mr Nolan ringing the stranger at about 5.48am and leaving a voicemail lasting more than a minute.

The court has already heard that Mr Toland rang an ambulance for Mr Nolan less than 20 minutes later.

Mr Toland told gardaí that it was after a phone call that Mr Nolan had become aggressive with him, accusing his sister of being behind the prank calls. He said he wrestled a knife from Mr Nolan and stabbed him in self defence.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Barry White and a jury of seven women and five men.

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