Witness blames phone calls for row which led to friend's death

A Dublin man has testified today that a row, which led to his friend being killed, stemmed from a series of calls that the victim received, but not the dozens of prank calls he made to that friend.

James Carroll (aged 32) was giving evidence to the Central Criminal Court today in the trial of a 36-year-old man, who stabbed him and fatally stabbed his life-long friend.

Martin Toland of Walkinstown Park has pleaded not guilty to murdering 28-year-old Alan Nolan and seriously injuring Mr Carroll at Cedar Brook Walk, Ballyfermot.

Mr Toland claims that he was acting in self-defence against both men at Mr Nolan’s home on the morning of September 8, 2007.

Mr Carroll agreed with Diarmaid McGuinness SC, defending, that he made dozens of phone calls to Mr Nolan that morning, while all three were socialising in Mr Nolan’s living room.

The apprentice electrician agreed that a row between Mr Nolan and Mr Toland and the subsequent stabbings all happened shortly after his last call to Mr Nolan at 5.47am.

He had already said that Mr Nolan’s sister had been receiving prank calls, but did not remember Mr Nolan suggesting that Mr Toland’s sister might have been behind them.

He also said that Mr Nolan had been sending and receiving numerous texts on the night and morning of the killing.

Mr Carroll agreed that the constant texts interrupted their video game and that he asked Mr Nolan to 'knock off’ his phone.

He said Mr Nolan did not say who the texts were from but Mr Carroll believed that it was phone contact with Mr Nolan’s ex-girlfriend that led to the altercation with Mr Toland.

He agreed that he (Mr Carroll) had later been “surreptitiously phoning Mr Nolan” and then cutting him off from the mobile phone is his pocket.

He agreed that he had turned off his caller ID and that the calls he was making were winding up Mr Nolan.

“I think I was distracting him, playing a game,” he said. “At the end, he knew it was me,” he claimed.

He said he did not remember Mr Nolan telling Mr Toland that his sister was behind the calls. He also did not remember Mr Toland saying that the falling out was between their sisters and shouldn’t affect their friendship.

He agreed that the row between the defendant and the deceased had stemmed from a series of phone calls. However, he said his calls to the deceased did not lead to the physical incident.

The trial has heard that Mr Nolan died of multiple stab wounds.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis, who also gave evidence yesterday, said the deceased sustained five stab wounds that morning.

He said that the fatal wound was to the front of the chest, and that the wound track went backwards for 11.5cm, 5cm of which was through the heart.

He said the weapon entered the chest cavity, injuring the breast bone, and entered the pericardial sac around the heart. He said that it then transfixed the right ventricle of the heart.

He said the pericardium had then filled with blood, preventing the heart from filling and bringing about a cessation of circulation.

He said a person could have survived and remained active for several minutes after such an injury and might not have left any blood where the stabbing had happened.

He examined the bloodstained knife that Mr Toland pointed out to gardaí at the scene.

He said this or a similar knife could have caused Mr Nolan’s wounds.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Barry White and a jury of seven women and five men.

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