The barrister of a Dublin man who stabbed his friend to death has asked his trial jury to acquit him of murder on grounds of self-defence.
Diarmaid McGuinness SC, defending, was giving his closing speech in the trial of the 36-year-old, who is charged with murdering his life-long friend and causing serious injury to another man.
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 on September 8, 2007.
The defendant, who is missing half a lung, claims that he was acting in self-defence when he stabbed both men a number of times at Mr Nolan’s home.
He said he was in fear for his life when they attacked him because, being on a blood thinner, he knew he could die from one bang to the head.
Mr McGuinness today asked the Central Criminal Court jury to being in a verdict of acquittal on both counts.
He said that his client had a knife produced against him by Mr Nolan, disarmed the assailant and retreated out the door.
He said that he was then set upon by the assailant and his friend, Mr Carroll, and that Mr Toland acted out of fear by fending them off with the knife.
“You ask what you would do in that situation,” he suggested to the jury. “You would be entitled to fend them off.”
Mr McGuinness said that all the wounds inflicted were consistent with him fending off both men and described the logic of his client’s account as compelling.
“Mr Toland is doing no more than is necessary to stop them coming at him, disarming them and doing whatever they were going to do if they got the knife,” he said. “That’s the kind of fear you have to consider.”
He told the jurors that this would be a full defence of murder and if they were satisfied of this, it would be their duty to acquit.
He said that if they decided Mr Toland unknowingly used excessive force to defend himself, then they should bring in a verdict of manslaughter.
“It only becomes murder if the evidence shows that he couldn’t have believed he was acting in self defence and the force was excessive,” he said, pointing to the prosecution’s argument in the case.
“I suggest you couldn’t conclude that after rigorous scrutiny of the evidence,” he added. “In my submission, you should find him not guilty of both offences.”
He also suggested that the seven women and five men of the jury ought not to decide the case without examining the knife used. He reminded them that the Deputy State Pathologist described it as having a very thin blade with a very sharp point.
Mr Justice Barry White has now begun charging the jury, which is expected to begin deliberating tomorrow.