Darren Murphy, aged 38, of Dan Desmond Villas, Passage West, pleaded not guilty to murdering Olivia Dunlea at Pembroke Crescent, Passage West on February 17, 2013, but admitted unlawfully killing her.
Murphy also admitted setting fire to Ms Dunlea’s home as he “didn’t want the kids to find her” and pleaded guilty to a charge of arson.
He was found guilty of her murder by a Central Criminal Court jury following four hours of deliberations and was given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Paul Carney on May 29, 2014.
Murphy moved to appeal his conviction on four grounds yesterday including the trial judge’s summary of matters to the jury such as the defence of provocation.
Giving background to the defence of provocation, Michael Delaney, for Murphy, said his client and Ms Dunlea had been in a relationship for about three months. Provocation related to Ms Dunlea’s alleged connection to another man, a taxi driver.
Mr Justice Carney told the jury that if they were satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that there was an intention to kill or cause serious injury then they should tick the first box on the jury form for murder. He went on to tell them that “if you found provocation or you’re not satisfied that the statutory intention had been proved” then “not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter” would be the appropriate verdict.
Mr Delaney said there was clearly scope for confusion on the part of the jury or, as he submitted, “an element of misdirection”.
Counsel for the DPP, Thomas Creed, said aspects of Murphy’s story weren’t corroborated by the taxi driver.
Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said the Court of Appeal would reserve judgment and deliver it as soon as possible.