Two men were sentenced to life in prison today after being found guilty of murdering a man at a house party that descended into violence.
Dylan Hayes (aged 22) of The Crescent, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, Co Limerick. was found guilty of the murder of Shane Murphy at The Grove, Pallasgreen, Co Limerick on April 30, 2015 by unanimous verdict. Ger Hogan (aged 34) of Raheen Square, Ballinacurra Weston was found guilty of the same offence by a 10-to-two majority.
Mr Murphy's family hugged one another and cried once the verdicts were revealed and the deceased's sister, Tracey Murphy, told the court: "We are doing a life sentence ever since Shane was cruelly taken away from us."
She said Shane, the "baby brother", was the youngest of eight kids and a happy go lucky boy who grew up to be a loving and caring uncle to his many nieces and nephews.
"He was always laughing and joking," she said. "The family tries to remember the times he made them laugh but they have struggled to come to terms with learning that he died in such a horrible and violent manner, suffering and in pain.
"Our world came crashing down," she said when they received the phone call telling them he had been murdered.
After hearing the statement from Ms Murphy, Justice Patrick McCarthy imposed the mandatory life sentence on Hogan and Hayes who were immediately led away by prison officers.
During the 12-day trial the court heard that a group of people, including Ger Hogan and Shane Murphy, were drinking at a house in Pallasgreen on Thursday April 30, 2015. The house belonged to Sharon Kelly, the girlfriend of the deceased, who was the only one who was not drinking. Also there were Ailish Flood and Jodie Byrnes.
Hayes had a relationship with Jodie Byrnes for some years and even after they split up the previous year, they remained in contact. On the day Shane died, Ms Byrnes phoned Dylan Hayes and told him that a man had tried to rape her in the house in Pallasgreen the previous night. She told him that she woke up with the man, named only as Wayne in the trial, beside her in bed and her trousers and underwear around her knees.
When Hayes arrived at Pallasgreen he was angry. He told Jodie he was going to get the "rapist bastard" but Sharon Kelly told the trial that she didn't believe Jodie Byrnes's claim that a man attempted to rape her and she told Hayes that Jodie was lying.
She said Shane Murphy also told Hayes that Jodie was lying. As tempers flared Hayes confronted Shane Murphy, asking him: "Did you call me a junkie?"
Hayes believed that Shane had been talking about him, saying that he was doing heroin, or "goofing off", at the house in Pallasgreen earlier the same week.
According to Sharon Kelly, being called a junkie is one of the worst and most inflammatory insults that could be used among the circle of people she knows.
Hayes told gardaí that Murphy responded: "Yeah, I did. What are you going to do about it?"
It was at this point, according to Hayes's statements to gardaí, that he went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and came back to the sitting room where he began stabbing Shane Murphy repeatedly in the chest, stomach, arms and legs.
Deputy State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan said one of the stab wounds pierced Shane's heart while others had damaged both lungs and the liver. Defensive wounds to his hands suggested that he had tried to protect himself as Hayes wielded the knife.
The prosecution case in relation to Ger Hogan was that he was involved in a joint enterprise with Hayes to murder Mr Murphy. According to witnesses, including Sharon Kelly and Jodie Byrnes, Hogan and Murphy had got on well but the atmosphere changed when Hayes arrived. As Sharon and the deceased tried to get Hayes and Hogan out of the house, Mr Murphy headbutted Ger Hogan.
It was around this time that Dylan Hayes entered the row and began arguing with Mr Murphy. Sharon Kelly said she saw Hogan attack and stab Shane Murphy with Dylan Hayes. She also said that Hogan and Hayes were saying "get him, get him" as they egged each other on.
Justice Patrick McCarthy had told the jury of seven men and five women that they could find the accused men guilty of murder if the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that they had formed a joint intention to kill or cause serious injury to Mr Murphy.