Third man found guilty in murder trial

A third man has been convicted of the murder of a 64-year-old man who was beaten to death with a baseball bat in his home.
Third man found guilty in murder trial

Matthew Cummins, aged 22, of Churchview Heights, Edenderry, Co Offaly; Seán Davy, aged 21, of Clonmullen Drive, Edenderry; and James Davy, aged 25, Thornhill Meadows, Celbridge, Co Kildare, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Thomas ‘Toddy’ Dooley at Sr Senan Court in Edenderry on February 12, 2014.

On Thursday, the jury at the Central Criminal Court found cousins Seán and James Davy guilty, and yesterday, they returned a guilty verdict for Cummins.

Justice Margaret Heneghan thanked the jury for their service, their attention, and patience, saying they had listened to some “gruesome details”.

“Watching you, I can see it has been a little more difficult for some than for others,” she said. She exempted them from further jury service for life, and added: “I want to extend my deepest and most sincere sympathy to the family of Mr Thomas Dooley.”

Thomas Dooley: Skull shattered and ribs fractured.
Thomas Dooley: Skull shattered and ribs fractured.

The three men face mandatory life sentences but Justice Heneghan postponed formally sentencing them until October 10. She ordered an education and urinalysis report for Cummins and a psychiatric report for James Davy be made available on that date and remanded all three in custody.

Cummins scuffled with prison guardsas he was led away.

The trial heard Seán and James Davy had met in Mangan’s Pub on the evening of February 11, where they drank several pints. James Davy was carrying a baseball bat, which he said he needed for protection because he had been beaten up the last time he came to Edenderry.

At around 9.30pm they went to a party at the home of April Murray in The Sycamore’s, Edenderry, stopping on the way to buy 30 bottles of beer. They then sat in the kitchen drinking and James Davy produced a bag of white powder, referred to by some as cocaine, which they snorted off a key. James Davy told gardaí it was a head-shop drug known as mephedrone.

Cummins joined them about 11pm. The party began to dwindle in the early hours and Ms Murray went to bed, leaving Cummins and Seán and James Davy to themselves.

What ensued was described as “carnage” by Patrick Treacy, prosecuting.

Courtleigh Maloney, aged 18, said she woke up at about 5am to banging noises from downstairs. She went down and saw white stuff on the mirror in the sitting room and then saw someone pulling out the presses in the living room.

Terrified, she told the three men to get out.

When Ms Murray arose the next morning she discovered what the three men had done.

“The sitting room was wrecked,” she said. “The kitchen curtains were black and it looked like someone had tried to burn them up in flames.”

They had also set fire to a lampshade, smashed a laptop, cut holes in a couch, and scraped a television. The sitting room ceiling was black from smoke damage.

Having been ejected from the house, the trio went to a 24-hour garage where they got cups and a mixer for a bottle of vodka they had bought earlier. Then they made the decision to go to Toddy Dooley’s house.

Cummins had been in Mr Dooley’s house before and knew the 64-year-old. He told gardaí he was a kind man who would always say hello. Cummins climbed in a window and then opened another window to let the other two in. Mr Dooley, who was described as “soft” by one Garda witness, was used to having young visitors at irregular hours and it appears he did not object. He sat in his armchair, opened a can of Budweiser, and drank with the intruders.

The three men gave different accounts of what happened next. Cummins said that, “out of the blue”, Seán Davy walked up behind the 64-year-old and beat him on the back of the head with the bat, before coming around the armchair to continue the beating from the front.

Seán Davy claimed James Davy was responsible for most of the blows, and that he himself struck Mr Dooley once, but “not full force”. James Davy denied laying a hand on Mr Dooley, saying Seán Davy beat him with the bat and Cummins kicked Mr Dooley but not with much force.

None of the three took responsibility for the attempts to set Mr Dooley’s clothes and armchair on fire.

Marie Cassidy, the State pathologist, gave an indication of the brutality of the attack. She found eight blows to Mr Dooley’s head which had shattered his skull, disfiguring his face and leaving fragments of bone lodged in his brain. Two blows to his torso had fractured three of his ribs. She found extensive burn marks on his legs and arms where his attackers had tried to set him on fire after he died.

The trio then packed a plastic bag full of things from the house in what the prosecution said was an attempt to remove any evidence that they had been there. They climbed out a window and over a wall and were caught on CCTV as they made their way towards a clothes bank beside Cummins’ home. It was there they deposited the baseball bat and the plastic bag and some sleeping tablets Cummins had stolen from Mr Dooley’s bathroom cabinet.

Cummins went home and the other two made their way to Seán Davy’s home.

The three were yesterday sent to Cloverhill Prison and will return on October 10 to face sentencing.

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