A 27-year-old man who admitted the manslaughter of his 22-year-old girlfriend was jealous and believed she had cheated on him, it was claimed during the opening of his trial for murder.
An ambulance paramedic who arrived at the scene where the woman lay dead said the defendant kissed the victim on the lips and put his head on her chest before leaving the room when directed.
The victim was found dead and an autopsy showed signs of blunt force trauma to the head and manual strangulation, prosecution senior counsel Seán Gillane said as the trial of Adam O’Keeffe commenced at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork.
The accused admitted manslaughter but pleaded not guilty to the murder of Amy McCarthy, 22, on April 29, 2017 or April 30, 2017 at 36 Sheares St, Cork City.
Mr Gillane told the six men and six women of the jury that he was outlining the anticipated evidence and that this was not itself evidence.
“The deceased in the case is Amy McCarthy, who would have been 22 at the time of her death,” he said. “She was reared in Greenmount, born to a good, loving stable family, she had three sisters. In her teenage years, as happens, Amy was someone who developed difficulties, in particular, the abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs.
“She met the defendant, Adam O’Keeffe, who was from Midleton and living at St Vincent’s hostel in Cork. He was also given to abuse —serious abuse — of alcohol. They began a relationship and the abuse of alcohol was very much a feature of it. The relationship was volatile on occasions. It was up and down. In the course of the relationship, you will hear that Adam O’Keeffe experienced jealousy on a regular basis.”
They had a child together and she remained living at home making considerable efforts to overcome alcohol but these difficulties re-emerged and she spent a large part of the day around the city centre drinking with Mr O’Keeffe and others.
Mr Gillane said she was visible from early that Saturday, April 29, on CCTV from various locations in Cork city. He said that, at around 4pm on MacCurtain St, there was a heated argument between Ms McCarthy and Mr O’Keeffe.
“It seemed to be based on the belief by Adam O’Keeffe that Amy McCarthy cheated on him,” he said.
The two were seen at Fine Wines off-licence on Washington St at 5.30pm and the last time Ms McCarthy was seen on CCTV was outside 36 Sheares St at 7.10pm that Saturday. The house was used as a squat.
At 6.30am the next day, Mr O’Keeffe and two other men went to the Mercy University Hospital asking for assistance. Paramedics from an ambulance found Ms McCarthy on the second floor of the building at Sheares St. She was dead, lying on her back, with the appearance of having suffered injuries.
Pathologist Margaret Bolster attributed the cause of death to blunt force trauma to the head and manual strangulation, Mr Gillane said. He added that the deceased had consumed a very considerable amount of alcohol.
Mr Gillane said Mr O’Keeffe was questioned and first said Ms McCarthy went to the bathroom, was missing for a long time and that he found her and tried to revive her.
“By the third interview, he admitted he was responsible for what happened but did not remember what happened and was sorry for what happened,” Mr Gillane said. “He repeated he did not intend to kill her or cause her serious injury.”
Defence senior counsel Brendan Grehan said it was accepted that the defendant lied to paramedics and in his initial statement to gardaí.
John McCarthy, ambulance supervisor, testified that a man called Adam and two other men brought them to the scene where they found a young woman dead on the second floor of a squat. He said Mr O’Keeffe referred to the deceased as his girlfriend and also as his wife. Mr McCarthy said Mr O’Keeffe asked if she had broken her neck. The paramedic found the question unusual and answered it with another question: “Why? Did she fall?” The paramedic said Mr O’Keeffe did not reply.
Mr McCarthy told Mr O’Keeffe to leave as they needed to clear the room. He said Mr O’Keeffe knelt down, kissed the deceased on the lips twice, and put his head on her chest before leaving.
Garda Enda Cotter met Mr O’Keeffe at the scene shortly afterwards. He appeared visibly upset, saying: “It’s Amy, she’s gone.”
The case continues before Ms Justice Eileen Creedon.
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