A homeless man aged 29 has pleaded guilty to murdering another homeless man, who was found ablaze in a Dublin park with his toe amputated. He changed his plea from not guilty after a judge ruled that his trial jury should hear his descriptive confession to the murder.
The Central Criminal Court heard that Gerard Donnelly, aged 36, had almost €150,000 in funds just weeks before gardaí found his body on fire in the Phoenix Park. The father of one died of blunt force trauma to the head before being set alight and having his little toe amputated.
Ciaran Moran, with an address at Camden Hall, Camden St, Dublin was charged with murdering Mr Donnelly at an unknown time during November 28 or 29, 2013. However, he pleaded not guilty to the murder and went on trial last week.
The jury heard five days of evidence, including that Moran was aware that the deceased had a lot of money and that a photograph of a severed toe was sent from Moran’s phone the night after the murder.
Jurors were also shown CCTV footage of the accused walking towards the scene shortly before the killing and of him lodging and spending money the following day.
The trial heard that gardaí investigated a blaze near the Wellington monument in the early hours of November 29. They found Mr Donnelly’s body on fire, with an aerosol can in his crotch area.
Mr Donnelly was identified through DNA testing.
The jury was asked not to come to court on three days this week. During this time, the defence made an application not to allow certain evidence to go before them on their return.
This included Moran’s confession to the murder made in a video-recorded interview while in Garda custody.
Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan yesterday ruled against the defence application and allowed the evidence to be called.
Moran had the indictment put to him again and pleaded guilty.
The judge, who must impose the mandatory life sentence, adjourned the case until next Wednesday.
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