Garda outlines horrific scene at site of Grangegorman murders
Retired state pathologist John Harbison reported that serious injuries to two women found dead in sheltered accommodation in Grangegorman 18 years ago was “outside” his experience in 26 years, a jury has heard.
Mark Nash, aged 42, who has last addresses at Prussia St and Clonliffe Rd in Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Sylvia Shields, aged 60, and Mary Callanan, aged 61, between March 6 and March 7, 1997.
The two women were living in sheltered accommodation in a house attached to St Brendan’s Psychiatric Hospital in Grangegorman.
The first witness of the day called by Una Ni Raifeartaigh, prosecuting, was Det Garda Eugene Gilligan, since retired, who was attached to the Garda Technical Bureau at the time.
Mr Gilligan arrived at Orchard View, Grangegorman on March 7 1997, and in the kitchen he found three drawers open, the second drawer contained kitchen utensils, while the third drawer containing a loose cutlery tray lay on the floor.
Mr Gilligan told told the court how he first identified the body of Mary Callanan , who was found in her room wearing a floral nightdress which had been gathered around her upper chest.
Two electric carving knife blades were found in her bedroom, one beside her neck and another on the floor.
A third kitchen fork, was also found protruding from her vagina, the court heard.
“It had been pushed up into vagina with an amount of force and embedded in the bone,” Det Gilligan said before showing the fork to the court.
The jury was then told by Mr Gilligan that Sylvia Shields body was found lying on her back across her bed with her feet on the ground.
She was found wearing a bra, a black slip and the torn remains of her underwear were attached to her left thigh.
Ms Shields had sustained neck, head, chest, abdominal, and vaginal injuries.
Det Gilligan said two knives were found in her bedroom, a steak knife with the blade slightly bent, found amongst the bedclothes, as well as a large serrated carving knife, found under her bed, with the blade bent to around 180 degrees.
The lengthy reports by retired Prof Harbison were read to the court by Brendan Grehan, prosecuting, concerning the autopsies where he described the serious genital injuries to the women as “injuries outside my experience in 26 years”.
Reading the report, Mr Grehan read aloud that Mr Harbison had said Ms Callanan had died from a stab wound to her left lung, the cutting of her throat, and three superficial stab wounds to her heart.
“An attempt was made to amputate Ms Callanan’s left breast,” read Mr Grehan.
Ms Shields had died from bleeding into her chest.
The second witness of the day, Det Sgt Christopher O’Brien, now retired, told Ms Ni Raifeartaigh that all the knives were examined for finger and palm marks but produced negative results.
Det Gilligan told the court he was asked to return to Orchard View on July 29, 1997, and examine the carpet in one of the bedrooms.
He told Hugh Hartnett, defending: “On examining the carpet I found a seven inch long tear at a right angle to wall and nine inches further away, a five inch long tear, so there were two tears in the carpet. I removed the whole carpet and labelled it.”
Mr Harnett asked: “Was that because someone in custody had noted the carpet and the person who referred to seeing a cut in the carpet was Dean Lyons and you were asked to go back to see if it was there?” “Yes, I believe so,” said Mr Gilligan.
The court has heard that Dean Lyons had originally admitted the Grangegorman murders but he was subsequently exonerated.
The trial continues.
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