Witnesses provide ‘sounds, visuals of murder’

A soundtrack of the circumstances surrounding the murder of 27-year-old Jonathan Duke was available to the jury complete with noise from an upstairs apartment, the dragging of a body down the stairs, comments by the accused woman, and her laughing like a hyena afterwards.

Witnesses  provide ‘sounds, visuals of murder’

That was the description made in a speech to the jury yesterday by Tim O’Leary, prosecuting, in the trial of Catherine O’Connor, aged 37, of Bridge House, Sean Hales Place, Bandon, Co Cork, who denies murdering Mr Duke at Bridge House on Nov 13 2011.

Isobel Kennedy, defending, said: “The prosecution are scraping the bottom of the barrel in this case, simply because she was in the room. It is not a crime to behave callously, it is not a crime not to run down the stairs and scream about it, it is not a crime to do nothing. It is not enough for you to bring home a conviction for murder.”

Mr Justice Paul Carney will address the jury at the Central Criminal Court in Cork on Tuesday.

In the prosecution speech, Mr O’Leary said: “In the vast majority of murders there is no CCTV, we cannot see what actually happens. I suggest to you we have something almost unique, a soundtrack to the entire event with visual images at the end.”

He said the sounds and visuals were described by the two men in the flat below. “They heard the banging which went on for five minutes or more. You hear the bump, bump down the stairs. You have a soundtrack of those noises. You have the sound of her saying, ‘drag her down, Chippy, he is dead.’ Then there is the bump, bump further down.

“They see Ms O’Connor and Chippy throwing the body. Can you be happy beyond reasonable doubt that she threw the body over the railing? Not only do you have a soundtrack but you also have a visual from those two gentlemen. He (one of the two men) says Ms O’Connor is laughing like a hyena (afterwards).

“She was telling Chippy to drag him (the deceased) down, ie he is dead, get rid of the evidence. That was her actual state of consciousness. She had blood under her fingernails and cuts to her hands.

“Put those strands together and I suggest that the case is proven beyond reasonable doubt,” Mr O’Leary said.

Ms Kennedy said: “The prosecution does not have the evidence that Catherine O’Connor carried out the assault, the tying up, and the various horrifying things you heard about to cause the death of Jonathan Duke.

“The evidence does suggest a horrific crime was committed but you have to decide who committed it. In my respectful submission there is no evidence that Catherine O’Connor was responsible.

“There is no direct evidence in this case. Simply because Catherine O’Connor was present does not allow you to conclude that she was responsible for the death of Jonathan Duke.”

She said evidence of the defendant laughing hysterically, having the blood of Mr Duke under one of her fingernails, and being agitated when gardaí arrived did not prove she was responsible for the death.

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