Tadhg Butler, with an address at Seafield in Tramore, Co Waterford, was charged with murdering Michael O’Dwyer at that address on January 10, 2014.
Butler, also known as Thomas O’Grady and originally from Kilkenny, pleaded not guilty to murdering the Kilkenny man but, after two hours and 26 minutes, the jury brought in a unanimous guilty verdict.
Butler dismissed his legal team on Tuesday, a week into the trial. He then recalled his nephew, who was a witness in the trial, for cross-examination in what Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy described as an “exceptional situation”.
Mr Justice McCarthy backdated thesentence to January 9, 2014, the date on which Butler went into custody.
The aunt of the deceased, Edel O’Neill, read out a victim impact report in which she said the hardest thing they ever had to do as a family was to tell their 83-year-old mother on the morning of January 10, 2014 that her grandson had been killed in such a brutal and violent manner.
Michael’s “senseless death” is something as a family they will never be able to understand or come to terms with. The court heard all they can think of is Michael lying on that footpath, on that cold night, feeling afraid and terrified, with none of his loved ones there to hold him.
In the early hours of January 10, 2014, they were the family who got that dreaded knock on the door which changed their lives forever.
“Our life as we knew it can never be the same again. It was especially hard when we heard that Michael’s life had been taken by another person,” said Ms O’Neill.
The court heard how Michael’s dad had been diagnosed with cancer in 2009, and, after battling the illness for two years, he passed away in June 2011.
“Michael was very good to help and look after his dad during the illness. Michael had some hard struggles of his own to deal with but he always cared for other people,” said Ms O’Neill.
She told the court Michael had been a very inoffensive young man and his mother Geraldine still waits for his phone call to tell her that he is on the way home for his dinner.
“His bedroom has never been touched since that awful night,” she said. “Geraldine wants it left untouched as she wants to keep the scent of Michael because, apart from her memories and photos, it is all she has left of Michael.”
The jury heard Michael and his four brothers were not just brothers but “very close friends”.
Two of Michael’s passions were music and making videos with his many friends, as well as doing crazy dance routines.
“We cherish those video and Facebook clips now, as they show how fun loving and up for the laugh he was,” said Ms O’Neill.
The courtroom heard that, on the day when Michael’s mother dropped him to Kilkenny, he said to her that he might find a good woman and settle down.
“This of course will never happen now,” said Ms O’Neill. “Little did Geraldine know that it would be the last time for her to see her son, her baby, alive.
“It was hard enough for us to lose Eddie, Michael’s dad, but to have to turn around and bury Michael beside him, a mere two and a half years later, was totally unbearable.”.