Romanian national Ciprian Grozavu, aged 42, with an address at Bridge House, Sean Hales Place, Bandon, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Duke at Bridge House on November 12, 2011.
Grozavu was found guilty of Mr Duke’s murder by a jury at the Central Criminal Court and was given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Paul Carney on July 17, 2013.
In the Court of Appeal yesterday, Grozavu’s barrister, Thomas Creed, said the three-judge court had to allow his client’s appeal if there had been the risk of a different verdict.
Mr Creed submitted that in answering a question from the jury on whether they could return a verdict of manslaughter without prejudicing the outcome for another accused, the trial judge failed to “just say ‘yes’.”
That was only one way to answer the question, said Mr Creed. However, the jury had been left with the impression that they could have prejudiced another trial if they returned a verdict of manslaughter in Grozavu’s case.
Furthermore, Mr Creed said the trial judge had addressed the jury on the question of common design when it wasn’t part of the prosecution’s case.
Finally, he submitted that the trial judge erred in failing to discharge the jury at the close of the prosecution’s case.
Timothy O’Leary, for the DPP, said it was never a “murder/manslaughter trial”. Grozavu’s defence had always been that he didn’t do it, said Mr O’Leary.
Had Grozavu been found guilty of manslaughter, Mr O’Leary said the conviction would not have made any sense as nobody in court was arguing for that result.
Mr O’Leary said the trial judge had cured the common design issue when he told the jury to ignore it and there was a significant amount of evidence to leave the case go to the jury.
Judgment was reserved yesterday.