Young mother died in derelict building after murder accused 'lost the plot', court hears

The late Amy McCarthy

By Liam Heylin

A witness told the jury at a murder trial today the accused “lost the plot” claiming his girlfriend cheated on him and he hit her and pushed her and threw what looked like an office laminator at the victim.

Dean Nugent said that earlier in the day the accused man Adam O’Keeffe head-butted him in the face when he tried to intervene in the row the accused was having with his girlfriend, the late Amy McCarthy.

Dean Nugent, who is in his mid-twenties, was friends with the accused and the deceased and ended up in a squat on Sheares Street with them on the night in April last year.

Adam O’Keeffe, 27, of St. Vincent’s hostel, Anglesea Terrace, Cork, admitted manslaughter but pleaded not guilty to the murder of Amy McCarthy, 22, on April 29 2017 or April 30 2017 at 36 Sheares Street, Cork City.

Ms Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of five men and six women – one juror was discharged yesterday – will continue hearing the case at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork today.

Dean Nugent testified that Adam O’Keeffe changed a lot in the week prior to the day in April. “He was asking me does she cheat and all this. He was getting more and more worked up about it. He was going on and on that she cheated on him,” he said.

Later in the squat at Sheares Street the argument was getting worse, Mr Nugent said, adding, “He lost the plot… He was hitting her, pushing her an all that.”

“Where?” Seán Gillane prosecution SC asked. “Face,” Mr Nugent replied. “How did she react?” Mr Gillane asked. “She was telling him stop. I couldn’t do anything. I tried to stop him … There was other stuff in the room he was throwing at her,” the witness said.

“Like what?” the prosecution senior counsel asked. “A laminator,” he said.

Brendan Grehan later suggested this office equipment might have been a fax machine.

Mr Nugent said of the victim: “She was sitting down on a chair. She was there ages sitting in the corner bleeding and crying.

“I was telling him stop. I was on the streets (living there at the time) in rag condition. I couldn’t do anything to stop him. I told him to stop. I was begging him to stop.”

Regarding O’Keeffe’s belief that Amy was cheating, Mr Nugent said, “That is not true, like. Anyone who knew Amy would know that was not true.”

Adam O'Keeffe

He said O’Keeffe threw Amy on to a chair and she struck her head against the side of a wall and got ‘goofy’ afterwards, by which the witness said he meant she was dazed.

Another witness, Barry Hurley, who is around 50, said Amy was very devoted to Adam and would be there every morning outside St. Vincent’s hostel to meet him and spend the day with him.

Mr Hurley said that when he saw Amy on the Sunday morning she was blue and had no pulse and he knew she was dead. He and the accused and another man went to Mercy University Hospital to get assistance.

Michael McInerney, aged around 40, was present that morning and said the accused told him, “My wife is dead.”

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster testified how she found extensive evidence of bruising all over Ms McCarthy’s body as well as on her face, scalp and neck.

Ms McCarthy had not suffered any fractures and the bruising was not consistent with any weapons being used but she had suffered blunt force trauma to the head with resulted in a subdural haemorrhage in the brain where she found a blood clot weighing 50 grammes

Usually such blood clots only became fatal in isolation if they were grew to 100 grammes or more but there was a combination of other factors at play in this case which resulted in the death of Ms McCarthy, said Dr Bolster.

These included evidence of manual strangulation to her neck which would have reduced oxygen flows to her brain resulting in hypoxia as well as acute alcohol intoxication which depressed the central nervous system significantly.

Tests on blood taken at autopsy showed an alcohol concentration of 253 mgs per 100 mls of blood which was the equivalent of seven or eight pints of beer or seven or eight large glasses of wine while tests on urine showed an alcohol concentration of 400 mgs per 100 mls of urine.

Based on the rate the body metabolises alcohol and the discrepancy between the blood and urine figures, it appeared that Ms McCarthy was alive but in a coma for between four to eight hours though she believed it was more likely to be the lower figure of four hours, Dr Bolster said.

Cross-examined by defence counsel, Brendan Grehan SC, Dr Bolster agreed that it could have appeared that Ms McCarthy was simply in a deep sleep after the assault but was in actual fact slipping deeper and deeper into a coma until she eventually died.

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