A mother-of-three found dead in her Cork home on Easter Sunday last year may have been bludgeoned to death with a hurley and the door of a microwave oven after being knocked to the ground, a Central Criminal Court jury has heard.
State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy has given evidence in the trial of a Co Meath man charged with the murder of separated mother Catherine Smart (aged 57) at her home in Bailick Court, Midleton, on April 4, 2010.
Derrick Daly (aged 47), originally from Enfield in Meath but with an address at St Vincent's Hostel in Cork city, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms Smart, with whom he had been living for a year-and-a-half prior to her death.
Dr Cassidy told counsel for the State, Mr Michael Durack SC, that she carried out a post-mortem examination which led her to conclude that the victim was subjected to a violent assault and died from multiple blunt force injuries to the head.
She said the results of the examination indicated that the first blow inflicted on the victim may have been sufficient to knock her over and that she was subsequently struck multiple times whilst lying on the floor of her living room.
Dr Cassidy said that bruises on the back of the victim’s hands were consistent with either defensive injuries, caused by the victim bringing her hands up to protect herself from further blows, or offensive injuries caused by the victim striking something with her hands.
She said that the victim had linear lacerations on her scalp, caused by being struck with something long and hard, while the scalp also had a number of irregularly-shaped lacerations caused by the impact of an object with a flat surface.
Dr Cassidy said that as a result of these injuries, which included 10 lacerations to the scalp and up to five separate blows from a “moderately heavy blunt object”, the scalp had largely separated from the skull.
She said the victim suffered internal bleeding in the skull and in the brain but the skull remained intact.
Dr Cassidy agreed with Mr Durack that a broken, blood-stained hurley found in the house could have caused the injuries inflicted on the victim.
She also agreed that the blood-stained door of microwave, which had a clump of the victim’s hair embedded in one of its damaged corners, could have been used to produce the linear wounds on the victim’s head.
Daly told gardaí in one of seven interviews at Midleton garda station that he kept a hurley in the house close to the back door.
However, despite refusing to recognise the broken blood-stained hurley found close to the victim as his own and denying having used it to bludgeon Catherine Smart to death, Daly told detectives that if the hurley was found in the house “it must be” his.
Catherine Smart was found dead at her home in Bailick Court on the morning of April 4, 2010. She had been out socialising in a number of pubs in Middleton the night before and was walked home by a male friend, who encountered an intoxicated Daly in the house.
Gardaí were also called to the house in Bailick court in the early hours of Sunday morning in answer to a complaint from Catherine Smart that she was locked out of her house.
Daly told gardaí that he left the house early on the Sunday morning to go a local Lidl, and returned approximately 25 minutes later to find Catherine Smart dead. He denied any altercation or argument had occurred.
The trial continues in front of Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and a jury of seven women and five men.