One defence witness was called yesterday in the trial. After that, Blaise O’Carroll, senior counsel, said: “Essentially that is the evidence from the defence.”
He did not formally close the defence case, however, and said one matter had arisen that would take no more than a few minutes to resolve when the jury returns on Tuesday.
Dr Jack Crane, State Pathologist for Northern Ireland was called by the defence yesterday, when he gave his view that, “the arm-lock episode may have resulted in the demise of this young boy”.
In relation to Wayne O’Donoghue’s account of catching the child in a head-lock first and then putting his hand to the boy’s throat, Dr Crane said: “When this was done to this poor chap, he may have been in the process of dying.”
The case was held up yesterday, from 10.30am to 2.30pm, as Dr Crane’s flight from Belfast to Cork was delayed and then had to divert to Farranfore, Co Kerry, due to fog. His evidence took less than an hour.
In his direct evidence, Dr Crane said: “The force applied to the neck was not particularly severe and was not particularly prolonged.”
Mr O’Carroll asked the pathologist if there were “any of the classical signs of someone trying to defend themselves”.
Dr Crane replied: “There were no apparent external injuries to the neck, that you might find if the victim was trying to remove the assailant’s hands.”
Commenting on injuries to Robert Holohan’s mouth, that State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy earlier said could have been attributed to a hand over the boy’s mouth or a blow to the mouth, Dr Crane described the injuries as trivial. “I do not think you can attribute any significance to them. You would be speculating,” he said.
Dr Cassidy referred to rib injuries consistent with the possibility of someone sitting astride the boy’s chest.
Dr Crane commented: “The injuries she describes to the chest would not be injuries I would expect to find if an assailant was kneeling on this boy’s chest.”