Woman may have been bludgeoned with hurley, court hears

A MOTHER of three found dead in her Cork home on Easter Sunday last year may have been bludgeoned to death with a hurley, a Central Criminal Court jury has heard.

State pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy has given evidence in the trial of a Meath man charged with the murder of Catherine Smart, aged 57, at her home in Midleton, on April 4, 2010.

Derrick Daly, aged 47, originally from Meath but with an address at St Vincent’s Hostel in Cork, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms Smart, with whom he had been living for a year-and-a-half prior to her death.

Dr Cassidy told counsel for the State, Michael Durack SC, a postmortem examination led her to conclude that the victim died from multiple blunt force injuries to the head.

She said bruises on the back of the victim’s hands could be consistent with defensive injuries, caused by the victim bringing her hands up to protect herself.

The victim had linear lacerations on her scalp, caused by being struck with something long and hard.

Dr Cassidy said, that as a result of these injuries, which included 10 lacerations to the scalp and up to five blows from a “moderately heavy blunt object”, the scalp had largely separated from the skull.

She said the victim suffered internal bleeding in the brain but that the skull remained intact.

Dr Cassidy agreed with Mr Durack that a broken, blood-stained hurley found in the house could have caused the injuries.

She also agreed that the blood-stained door of a microwave, which had a clump of the victim’s hair embedded in one of its damaged corners, could have been used to produce the linear wounds.

Daly told gardaí in one of seven interviews at Midleton Garda Station that he kept a hurley in the house.

He denied using the hurley to bludgeon Ms Smart to death, but told detectives if the hurley was found in the house “it must be” his.

Ms Smart was found dead at her home on the morning of April 4, 2010. She had been out socialising in Midleton the night before and was walked home by a friend, who told the court he found Daly drunk in the house.

Daly told gardaí he left the house early on the morning of April 4 and when he returned 25 minutes later, he found Ms Smart dead. He denied that any altercation or argument had occurred.

The trial continues in front of Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan.


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