Burglar who murdered pensioner loses two appeals

A burglar jailed for life for the murder of “well-respected” Sligo man Eugene Gillespie has had appeals against his conviction and sentence dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Simon McGinley, aged 32, of Connaughton Rd Car Park, Sligo, had admitted killing Mr Gillespie, aged 67, at his home in Old Market St on September 19, 2012, but denied it was murder.

The Central Criminal Court heard that the manslaughter plea was not accepted by the State and a jury was sworn in for the trial. He had pleaded guilty to the false imprisonment of Mr Gillespie, as well as trespass to commit robbery.

Mr Gillespie was a retired telecoms broker who worked in the family shop and lived alone with his dog.

He was found tied up in the hallway of his home by his nephew and his brother two days after the assault.

McGinley was found guilty of murder and was given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan on April 3, 2014. He handed down a 10-year sentence for the false imprisonment charge and seven years for burglary to run concurrently with the life sentence.

McGinley brought appeals against his conviction and sentence which were heard in the Court of Appeal yesterday. The three-judge court dismissed both sets of appeals on all grounds.

Giving judgment on both sets of appeals, Mr Justice George Birmingham said McGinley had entered the home of Mr Gillespie in the course of a burglary.

Mr Gillespie was subjected to a serious degree of violence. At one stage, McGinley restrained Mr Gillespie by tying his hands behind his back with a cord.

Mr Justice Birmingham said McGinley’s lawyers, who had not represented him at trial, had “formulated a large number of grounds of appeal” none of which were raised at trial. They included criticisms of the trial judge’s charge to the jury. Mr Justice Birmingham said no one involved in the trial had any criticisms to make of the judge’s charge.

“Very understandably so,” he said, because the judge’s charge was clear, concise, and had accurately stated the law.

Turning to the sentence appeal, he said the court could not conclude the terms were excessively severe.


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