A Limerick man whose conviction for murder was quashed following a successful appeal will be sentenced for manslaughter next week at the Central Criminal Court.
Kevin Coughlan, aged 33, with a last address at Avondale Drive, Greystones, Limerick, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Francis Greene at Steamboat Quay in Limerick between November 28 and 29, 2009.
He was found guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court and given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Patrick J McCarthy on December 22, 2011.
In June this year the three-judge Court of Appeal found that Coughlan’s trial had been unsatisfactory.
President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan said the appeal arose out of the then deputy state pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber’s “crucial” evidence in the case.
The defence submitted that they were presented with conclusions on the cause of death that had not been notified to them in advance.
The case against Coughlan was that he had forced Mr Greene into the river where the unfortunate man met his death by drowning. “That was the case that was made”.
However, Dr Jaber also produced an opinion that Mr Greene had been strangled before he got into the water, the judgment stated.
It was “not satisfactory” that that was given “for the first time in the witness box when the pathologist was giving evidence in the course of an important murder trial”, Mr Justice Ryan said.
Yesterday the case was brought before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy for sentence where he said he would reserve judgement on it until Monday, October 12, at 11am as this was a “complex case”.
In the Central Criminal Court yesterday, counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Patrick McCarthy SC, read the victim impact statement from Mr Greene’s family.
He read that on December 2, 2011, Francie’s mother Theresa got a call to say her son was missing and since then their family has been “plunged into a nightmare situation” they would not wish on anyone.
“The lives we had known before were over and nothing would ever be the same again,” read the barrister.
The court heard that for the 10 weeks Francie was missing, they lay awake night after night wondering about him and what had led to his disappearance.
“Desperate for answers, we organised search parties and combed the countryside, fields, rivers, ditches, anywhere we could think of — hoping now that at least we would find a body,” read Mr McCarthy.
The court heard that news came that a body had been found and it most likely was Francie; news which the family had “dreaded for so long”.
“At last we had a body and we could have a funeral and say prayers for our beloved son and brother. But sadly our nightmare was far from over,” read the prosecution counsel.
“We knew he had ended up in the River Shannon but we didn’t know if he was alive being pushed in or if he was spared that terror and was already dead before he hit the icy November water,” read Mr McCarthy.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved