A maintenance man trying to unblock a rubbish chute at a Cork city apartment complex was shocked when the body of a dead man fell out of the chute, a judge and jury at a murder trial were told.
Ms Justice Tara Burns and a jury of seven women and five men were hearing the first evidence in the trial of David O’Loughlin, 31, with an address at Garden City Apartments, North Main Street, Cork, who pleaded not guilty to the charge of murdering Liam Manley, 59, at Garden City Apartments on May 12, 2013, at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork.
Michael Francis Ford worked as a maintenance and repairman for a property management company that looked after a number of buildings including the City Gate apartments.
On Monday, May 13, 2013, Mr Ford went to the City Gate apartments to clean the area around the large plastic bin which was in position under the 40-foot chute that served the apartment complex. Mr Ford said that as he was cleaning up around the large bin he realised that the chute was blocked.
Patrick McGrath SC suggested there had been a problem with the chute being blocked a number of times before.
“What we used to have to do was use rods to pull the rubbish down the chute,” Mr Ford said.
He told Mr McGrath the method they used was to push the length of rods up the chute until they hit something and then turn the rods so that a hook at the end of the extendable rods caught on to the item causing the blockage so that it could be grabbed and pulled down.
Mr Ford said that on this day a bit of rubbish came loose and that normally he would expect that after the first one or two bags all the rubbish behind the blockage would fall clear down the chute.
“But no more came so I had to go rodding again. I was at it for a while. It was getting late in the evening. I got to the stage I was going to give up – It was the thought of going back the next day (that prompted him to stay at it). With the poking and pulling, it came,” the witness said.
The prosecution senior counsel asked, “What came?” He replied, “The body.”
Mr McGrath clarified that the witness was referring to the body of the deceased Mr Manley, 59.
Mr Ford said that before the body came there was red liquid and initially he thought it was some kind of sauce or ketchup.
Mr McGrath SC said, “You obviously got quite a shock when the body of the deceased came down the chute.” He agreed.
Two men were in the area at the time and he called them to ask them would they take a look also. Mr McGrath SC said:
“You could not believe what you had seen?” Mr Ford replied, “I suppose I did not want to.”
Michael O’Higgins defence senior counsel said the chute got blocked about once a week before this occurred and Mr Ford agreed.
Mr O’Higgins said there was now a steel grid at each entrance to the chute which ensured that no bulky bags could be placed in the chute and that this had prevented blockages. Paul O’Sullivan a director of the management company agreed with this.
Miquel Marques who lived nearby recalled being beckoned by Mr Ford to look at what he had discovered and to verify that it was a body. Mr Marques testified, “There was a body under the chute. It was on his knees slumped over like a Muslim praying. I could not see his head. His shoulders were touching the floor. It was strange.”
That was when the gardaí were contacted by a 999 call. The case continues tomorrow.