The Court of Appeal has ordered that a man be retried for one of two murders, after finding that the trial judge in one of his trials, should have simply said ‘yes’ in response to a question from the jury.
Romanian national Ciprian Grozavu, aged 42, with an address at Bridge House, Sean Hales Place, Bandon, Co Cork, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Jonathan Duke, 27, at Bridge House, Bandon, on November 12, 2011.
Grozavu and his girlfriend at the time, Catherine O’Connor, aged 40, of the same address, lived in an apartment next to a bridge over the Bandon river. Mr Duke was killed in that apartment on November 13, 2011, and his body dumped in the river.
Another occupant, John Forrester, was killed in his apartment the previous evening.
Grozavu and O’Connor were charged and convicted of the murder of both men in four separate trials.
Grozavu was found guilty of Mr Duke’s murder by a jury at the Central Criminal Court and was given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Paul Carney on July 17, 2013.
He successfully appealed his conviction in respect of Mr Duke’s murder yesterday. The Court of Appeal ordered a retrial after finding that the trial judge, in response to a question from the jury, should have said “simply ‘yes’.”
Giving judgment, Mr Justice John Edwards said the jury, shortly after commencing deliberations, returned to court and asked two questions of the trial judge.
The first concerned the legal definition of manslaughter; no issue arose in relation to advice provided.
The second question was: “If we believe that two people were involved in an unlawful killing, may we decide that one was guilty of murder without prejudicing the verdict in the case of the other?” The ‘other’ was a reference to O’Connor, who was facing trial for the same murder.
To this question, the judge said: “That’s a difficult one. You are only concerned with the case against Mr Grozavu. You are only concerned with the case against him.”
Thomas Creed, for Grozavu, said the judge failed to “just say ‘yes’.”
Grozavu has separately lodged an appeal in respect of his conviction of the murder of Mr Forrester.
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