Teenager convicted of manslaughter in stabbing trial

A south Dublin teenager has been found guilty of the fatal stabbing of another teenager outside his house on Waterloo Road by a jury at the Central Criminal Court.

The jury of eight men and four women took just under three and three quarter hours to find Finn Colclough (aged 18), with an address at Waterloo Road, Dublin 4, not guilty of the murder of student Sean Nolan at Waterloo Road in the early hours of May 26, 2007, but guilty of his manslaughter.

During the six-day trial the jury heard that both Colclough and Mr Nolan had been out on the night of May 25 at separate celebrations. Mr Nolan was celebrating completing his secondary education and had gone out with friends after celebrations with teaching staff at St Joseph’s CBS in Fairview and members of his family.

After a celebratory mass they went to a local pub before Mr Nolan went into town where he met up with two friends, Mr Eric Treacy and Mr Ciaran Wogan. They went to Reds on O’Connell Bridge before moving onto Barcode nightclub in Clontarf.

After a couple of drinks they caught a taxi back into town but were refused entry to several places.

After trying to return to Barcode, which by this time had shut its doors, Mr Nolan suggested to the others that they go to the house of a girl he knew called Sarah, or Saffy, who lived in the Waterloo Road area.

It was now after 3am. On the way they stopped at a petrol station and bought a bottle of wine and some crisps.

Mr Wogan told the court that, on their way to Waterloo Road, they had walked down a side street and seen lights on in a house. There was a man in the garden and they stopped to ask him if there was a party. When he told them there wasn’t they moved on.

Finn Colclough had finished his school term at lunchtime on May 25. He was a student in the Institute of Education near Stephen's Green. He had stayed around to wait for a friend of his to finish an art project before heading back home to Waterloo Road.

Later that evening, Mr Colclough, his friends as well as his mother and father and his brother and some of his friends attended a 21st birthday party that was being held at Spy Nightclub.

Mr Colclough and his friends drank at the free bar in operation for the earlier part of the evening.

One of his friends who gave evidence during the trial but cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court that he thought he had drunk between eight and 14 drinks, a mixture of cocktails, wine and beer. He thought Mr Colclough had roughly the same amount to drink.

Another friend, who also cannot be named, told the court that she had never seen Mr Colclough so drunk.

When the nightclub closed at about 2am. Mr Colclough and his friends went back to Waterloo Road. His parents went up to bed while his brother went to his room with some of his friends.

Mr Colclough and his two friends stayed in the downstairs kitchen, used by his mother Alix Gardner to run a cookery school.

His friends told the court that they spent a couple of hours hanging about and making sandwiches. One of his friends said that she rolled a joint which she and Mr Colclough smoked on the steps of the house outside.

Mr Colclough told gardaí that the three decided to take a walk down the street shortly before 4am.

They left the house and started to walk towards town. Mr Colclough was carrying three cans of deodorant, because, he told gardaí, he was sweaty after dancing at the party.

When they had walked a few feet away from the house they encountered Mr Nolan and his friends who crossed the road to meet them. Mr Nolan asked for directions to Sarah’s house.

Mr Colclough told him that they did know Sarah but she had moved away. He gave them directions in the opposite direction. He and his friends said that they felt uneasy after the meeting and returned to the house.

Mr Nolan and his friends stopped outside the house to try and open the bottle of wine. They gestured at the kitchen window in the hope of getting a bottle opener after Mr Treacy’s keys broke trying to get the bottle open.

One of Mr Colclough’s friends said that he saw the three outside and told Mr Colclough they were still there. He told the court Mr Colclough responded: “Oh s***.”

His other friend went outside to tell Mr Nolan and his friends to move on. Then Mr Colclough came running out of the house shouting to get away from his house. He was holding a knife in each hand.

Mr Nolan took several steps forward to meet him, on the street directly outside the house, and “squared up” to Mr Colclough. A brief struggle ensued. Mr Nolan was seen to raise his hand and push or strike Mr Colclough. Mr Colclough told gardaí that he tried to push Mr Nolan away from him. The knives were still in his hands.

Mr Nolan stepped back holding his chest and said “I’ve been stabbed” before falling to the ground. Mr Colclough continued to shout “Get away from my house” before returning to the house.

He went to the sink to wash the blood off his hands and the knife, which he dried and put away. Mr Colclough told gardaí that he had not meant to wash the knife but it slipped into the sink while he was washing his hands.

He then went back outside where Mr Treacy shouted at him to call an ambulance. Mr Colclough went back into a house and used the phone in the kitchen to call for an ambulance.

Mr Nolan was pronounced dead on his arrival at St Vincent’s Hospital.

A post mortem examination of Mr Nolan’s body revealed that he had suffered two stab wounds. The fatal injury had entered his body from the right, puncturing a lung and cutting into his heart.

During the trial, the court heard evidence from Dr Paul O’Connell, a consultant psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum. He told the jury that Mr Colclough suffered from dyslexia and had been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder between the ages of nine and 10.

He said he had an obsessive urge to clean and would use up to five cans of Dettol to spray the floor to get rid of contaminants he thought he had picked up in school.

Mr Justice Paul Carney thanked the jury for their careful consideration of the case and excused them from further jury service for the rest of their lives. He remanded Mr Colclough in custody prior to his sentencing on December 19.

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