Accused told gardaí he stabbed women during house break-in

A jury has heard that a man on trial for a 1997 double murder gave a statement to gardaí, admitting he stabbed two women after breaking into a house .

Detective Garda Gerard Dillon, now retired, who was attached to Mill Street Garda Station in Galway on the evening of August 16, 1997, yesterday read a written statement given by the accused, Mark Nash, in Galway on August 17, 1997. In the statement, he wished to volunteer information in relation to a double murder he “committed in Dublin five months ago”.

Mr Nash, with last addresses at Prussia St and Clonliffe Rd in Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the double murder of Sylvia Shields, aged 59, and Mary Callanan, aged 61, who lived in sheltered accommodation, in a house attached to St Brendan’s Psychiatric Hospital in Grangegorman, Dublin 7, between March 6 and March 7, 1997.

Yesterday, Mr Dillon read the statement Mr Nash made to gardaí on August 17, 1997. Mr Nash told gardaí that upon leaving a nightclub in Dublin City at 11.30pm, he took a wrong turn and ended up at a two-storey house at Orchard View.

“I cannot explain my mind at time, but everything seemed to turn black. I lost control and decided to break into a house. I went in a side entrance to the back of house,” Mr Nash told gardaí.

He said he picked up a bread knife in the kitchen and went upstairs.

The court heard how in the first room, there was a “large lady” in her “mid-fifties” asleep, Mr Nash said he pulled the duvet down to her waist and stabbed her in the chest.

“I don’t know how many times. It was a frenzy attack. I cut her throat, I think just once,” the statement read.

In the second bedroom, Mr Nash told gardaí he saw a lady of “slim build” getting out of a bed. He walked to the foot of the bed and stabbed her in the chest. “I don’t know how many times. She fell forward. I may have cut her throat, I cant remember.”

In the third bedroom, there was a woman asleep with black earphones in. Mr Dillon read that Mr Nash said he still had the knife in his hand but regained his self-control and left the room.

Mr Nash said he left the house by the front door.

Brendan Grehan, prosecuting, asked Mr Dillon if there was any prompting at the time of the statement being made, Mr Dillon said that “it was a free-flowing statement by Mark Nash, he cried on two occasions”.

Hugh Harnett, defending, suggested that “prompts were made” on the day in question, to which Mr Dillon replied: “I don’t agree.”

The trial continues.

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