Man accused of Waterford murder gives closing speech to jury after sacking legal team

Man accused of Waterford murder gives closing speech to jury after sacking legal team

The prosecution counsel in the trial of a man charged with murdering a 25-year-old man in Waterford last year has urged the jury to use "common sense" after the accused today said he stabbed the deceased by accident.

Tadhg Butler (aged 34) with an address at Seafield in Tramore, Co Waterford is charged with murdering Michael O'Dwyer at that address on January 10, 2014.

Mr Butler, also known as Thomas O'Grady and originally from Kilkenny, has pleaded not guilty to murdering his fellow Kilkenny man.

Yesterday Mr Butler dismissed his legal team and today he recalled his nephew, who is a witness in the trial, for cross-examination.

This morning, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy told the jury of four men and eight women that the court found themselves in an exceptional situation.

"I permitted Anthony O'Grady to be recalled as Mr Butler said he wished to ask him questions on a new topic or a new subject and when the witness is called back it’s for that purpose. Those are the restrictions as a matter of law," said the judge.

In cross examination Mr Butler said to his nephew Mr O'Grady how he went to the kitchen on the night to get a knife and said he was going to cut himself and he also had a previous history of self harming with knives.

"We had an argument in the hallway and you were trying to cut yourself, I grabbed the knife out of your hand and swung it away from you and when I grabbed the knife, I swung around and it went into Michael's chest," said Mr Butler.

Later in the morning prosecution counsel Mr Denis Vaughan Buckley SC made his closing speech to the jury, where he said not once was it previously suggested during the course of the trial by defence counsel Mr Brendan Grehan SC that Mr Butler "accidentally stabbed Michael

O'Dwyer."

"You recollect he was represented until yesterday by one of the most experienced senior counsels in the country, you would have thought if instructions of this kind would have been given to Mr Grehan, however it was never once suggested whatsoever," said the barrister.

"Now a different case has been made and Mr Butler is saying he accidentally killed Michael O'Dwyer. You are people with common sense, please use your common sense," said Mr Vaughan Buckley.

The barrister asked the jury to pay attention to the statement Mr O'Grady gave to Det Sgt Colm Furlong on January 10, 2014 concerning what happened in Tramore

"That statement is evidence in this case, it appears to be reliable. You might say to yourself is there any other evidence. The accused's former partner went to Cork Prison and he admitted to her he stabbed Michael O'Dwyer, there was no mention of an accident," said the prosecution counsel.

"Then you also have the evidence from a number of gardaí who arrived at the scene and of the accused being in the vicinity when they arrived and going into house and he didn't come out again," added Mr Vaughan Buckley.

The barrister also put it to the jury that in cross examination they would have heard that maybe Anthony O'Grady stabbed the deceased but not today, "today you heard its an alleged accident."

The prosecution counsel also mentioned how the memo's of the interviews between the accused and the gardaí were very important.

"Wouldn't you think there was an opportunity for Mr Butler to say he accidentally stabbed him by accident, wouldn't you think that might have come out of what happened. I would submit on the facts that there is more than a strong case that the accused is guilty of the fact of murder."

"All independent witnesses gave evidence in this case, we also heard from the ex-partner of the accused and the fact he admitted to her and didn't say it was an accident.

"If it was a genuine accident, he could be acquitted of murder but I submit in this case, for the defence of an accident to be raised on the last day of the trial and never to suggested by one of the most competent senior counsels defending, why has it changed, use your common sense," concluded Mr Vaughan Buckley.

Mr Butler began his closing speech by telling the jury how he had no qualification or degree in law but he would try to explain to them as best he could what happened.

"The whole reason why the three lads came down to my house was for a get together for a drink as Luke Green was going back to Australia.

“There was no suggestion of any violence being used and there was no disputes between me and Michael O'Dwyer. That doesn't show the evidence of what the prosecution are trying to paint, that I stabbed the deceased and it is not in my nature to do something like that," he said.

Mr Butler recounted to the jury how Mr O'Grady went to the kitchen that night, grabbed a knife and said he was sick of life and started cutting himself.

The accused said he got his nephew's arm and pinned the knife up behind his back, and that is why there was a cut across his back.

"When he went to the garda station the next morning, he made a statement voluntarily where he said he could remember everything and I was the one that went out to the kitchen and got this big knife and like in a movie I was like a psychopath and I stabbed Michael O'Dwyer in the chest," said Mr Butler.

The accused said he had a "change of heart" half way through the trial as Mrs O’Dwyer has the right to know how her son passed away under these tragic circumstances.

He said when he told the gardaí he couldn't remember, he wasn't prepared to speak to the gardaí at the time.

"The explanation I can give you for not owning up and telling it like it was and what happened in Seafield was because I didn't want any more suffering on my sister's doorstep. Her son had passed away under tragic circumstances," said Mr Butler.

He told the jury he didn't want his five children growing up fatherless and how the truth should have come to the surface on January 10, 2014 and not now.

"I should have explained everything and even if that meant Anthony being arrested , I didn't want suffering coming on my sisters doorstep," he added.

Concerning his ex-partner, Mary Rose Burke's statement, Mr Butler called their relationship "volatile" and since they parted ways, she had developed "an anger and hatred" for him as she was left behind in Cork with five children.

"When she knew I wouldn't go back with her and I was going to meet someone else, it ate her up," he added.

"Why were the gardaí so interested in her making a statement as they were already aware there was bad blood between us. It was a well planned and executed plan of hers to have me put away for a long time because she was afraid I was going to move on with another woman," said Mr Butler.

Concerning Mr Butler sticking a foot-long knife into the deceased's chest, he called it an "absolute ludicrous accusation" that his nephew had made against him.

“It is up to you to determine how it happened and if you believe I stuck a knife into Michael O'Dwyer's chest for no reason. I hope that for the stupidity of me not saying what happened and trying to protect my nephew and sister that I won’t have to pay for this for the rest of my life. People do make mistakes in life and this is one of mistakes I’m after making," he concluded.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy will continue charging the jury in the morning.

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