Mark Nash, aged 42, who has last addresses at Prussia St and Clonliffe Rd in Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the murder of Sylvia Shields, aged 60, and Mary Callanan, and 61.
Mr Nash is charged with the murders of the women, who lived in a house attached to St Brendan’s Psychiatric Hospital in Grangegorman, Dublin 7, between March 6 and March 7, 1997.
Opening the prosecution case yesterday Brendan Grehan told the jury this was a case which dated to 1997, and the fact it was 18 years ago was “a factor in this case”.
He pointed out to the jury of seven men and five women that the offences “occurred quite a considerable time ago and for that reason you will not hear from some witnesses, who have in fact died.”
He also outlined there would be matters in the course of trial “that occurred in Roscommon and there would be a reference to a Dean Lyons, who is since deceased”.
Outlining the facts of the case, Mr Grehan said that a bloodstain found on a lower button on the sleeve of Mr Nash’s jacket in 1997 could not be developed as a DNA sample.
However Mr Grehan told the court that in July 2009, a “spectacular breakthrough” was made with new tests and DNA from both women, Ms Shields and Ms Callanan, was found on the black velvet, stripey jacket.
The jury was told that Mr Nash had confessed to gardaí that he had carried out the Grangegorman murders, after being charged with the double murder of Carl and Catherine Doyle at their Roscommon home in August 1997.
On August 16, 1997, Mr Grehan said Mark Nash was arrested by gardaí outside Galway City in relation to the Roscommon murders.
During the course of his retention in Mill St Garda Station, the court heard that Mr Nash volunteered he had committed the Grangegorman murders and when being transported to Mountjoy prison, he even pointed out the house where the murders in Orchard View in Dublin 7 had happened.
Mr Grehan outlined to the court that at the time Mark Nash made this admission to the gardaí, they had no interest in the Grangegorman murders.
“As far as they were aware the crimes had been solved and a Dean Lyons had confessed to these murders on July 26,” said Mr Grehan.
“He had been charged and was in custody for these murders.”
However, Mr Lyons, from Dublin, who had originally admitted the murders, was later exonerated.
Mr Nash subsequently withdrew his admissions and said he was shocked that his statement was taken seriously, saying he was “in a serious mental anger and distress due to the day’s previous events”.
Mr Grehan told the court: “He said he would like to state for the record, he had nothing to do with [the Grangegorman] murders, it was the bamblings of an unstable man and he would have taken the wrap for killing the Pope.”
The court heard how Mr Nash made contact with the gardaí through his solicitor and wrote a letter saying he sought to take back what he had said about the Grangegorman murders and wanted to apologise to gardaí for wasting their time and withdraw any statements and diagrams in relations to it.
Mr Grehan told the court that apart from Mark Nash allegedly “admitting” he had carried out the murders, there is “in addition completely independent, objective and scientific evidence by way of DNA analysis which the prosecution say, can only be rationally explained by pointing to Mark Nash for these murders”.
The jury of seven men and five women under Mr Justice Carroll Moran also heard about the “badly mutilated bodies” of the two women, who were left “partially clad” after being abused using serrated blades, a knife, a large carving knife, and a carving fork.
These implements are believed to have originated from the kitchen of the house in Grangegorman, which is no longer in existence in order to make way for the new DIT complex.
Both women had been inpatients in Grangegorman but in more recent years had moved into a community based residential facility or sheltered housing, operated by what was then the Eastern Healthboard.
Ms Shields had at “least 17 separate injuries afflicted to her body, some 10 separate wounds to head and neck area”.
While Ms Callanan had a “severe facial and knife wound through her mouth and lips, her throat been severed with 36 strokes”.
Both had also sustained serious genital injuries.
The jury was also shown a video of the scene at Orchard View, Grangegorman as well as hearing from two security guards from Grangegorman who were amongst the first on the scene on the morning of March 7, 1997.
The trial continues.