Victim died from blood loss caused by stab wounds, pathologist confirms

The Deputy State pathologist said today that a 24-year-old father of two, who was stabbed 11 times during an altercation, died from significant blood loss caused by multiple penetrating stab wounds to the heart, lungs and neck.

Dr. Khalid Jaber was giving evidence in the Central Criminal Court on the fourth day of the trial of Fintan McKenna (aged 24), of Woodlands, Balla, Castlebar who has pleaded not guilty to murdering Francis ‘Frankie’ Heneghan (aged 24) in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo on August 12, 2009.

It is the prosecution’s case Mr McKenna stabbed Mr Heneghan 11 times during an altercation in a laneway at the side of the Tavern pub in Kiltimagh.

It is alleged there was considerable animosity between the accused and his sister’s partner, Mr Heneghan, prior to his death.

Dr Jaber told the court Mr Heneghan suffered a total of 11 stab wounds, however, of those 11, five were serious.

The most significant wound was a penetrating stab wound to the left ventricle of the heart which measured approximately 8.5cm in depth and was fatal in nature.

Bruising around the heart suggested that a considerable amount of force was used to inflict this injury.

The depth of the wound also suggested that the length of the blade used in the attack was at least 8.5cm in length.

Mr Heneghan also suffered two stab wounds to the left chest wall penetrating the lungs and two to the neck severing the major artery and vein.

Dr Jaber said: "The damage to the heart would have lead to a very quick loss of blood and the damage to the major artery in the neck would have caused blood to spurt from the neck like a fountain."

The deceased also suffered two stab wounds to the left arm and three to the face. These were all classified as superficial.

Dr Jaber told Ms Walley SC, prosecuting, that despite the "striking" amount of blood loss and nature of the injuries death would not necessarily have been instantaneous and it was not surprising the deceased was able to run some distance before collapsing.

He concluded that, in his opinion, all of the injuries were attributable to one instrument and given the pattern and distribution of the stab wounds they were inflicted in a frenzied attack.

Under cross-examination Senior defence counsel Martin Giblin put it to Dr Jaber that it was possible the deceased’s injuries could have been inflicted by two people carrying a similar knife.

The witness did not accept this, noting the overlapping similarities of the wounds and the fact that all the injuries were on the left side of the body.

Earlier, Gda Derek Conroy, of Swinford Garda station in Co Mayo, told the court he was on patrol in Kiltimagh on the night of the killing.

At 11:45pm he noticed Finbar Manley and Mr Heneghan standing outside the doorway of a hardware store on Main Street and told them to move on.

He followed the pair in the patrol car as they turned right down the laneway beside the Tavern Pub.

When he drove into the laneway he saw Mr Heneghan at the bottom running onto Main Street Rear. As he followed he noticed three men standing to the side.

Gda Conroy said by the time he reached Main Street Rear Mr Heneghan had collapsed. At the time he thought Mr Heneghan had simply fallen.

However, upon closer examination he discovered the deceased was bleeding from the mouth and had puncture wounds to his chest and neck.

Gda Walsh said: "Frankie let out three gasps of breath for air I knew he was struggling. I checked for a pulse but I couldn’t get one."

He told the court he started CPR without success; a local doctor arrived at the scene and pronounced Mr Heneghan dead at 12:45am.

The trial continues on Tuesday before Mr Justice John Edwards when it is expected the prosecution will conclude their evidence.

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