Appeal bid over jailing for murder of ex-soldier

A Limerick man jailed for life for the murder of a 71-year-old retired soldier, whom he knew and whose fires he would light in his home, has moved to appeal his conviction.

Appeal bid over jailing for murder of ex-soldier

Christopher McNamara, aged 24, of Good Shepherd Villas, Pennywell Rd, Limerick had pleaded not guilty to the murder of James Boyce, aged 71, at St Munchins St, St Mary’s Park in Limerick between March 6, 2011, and March 7, 2011.

The two-week trial heard McNamara had confessed to the killing of Mr Boyce to his mother. McNamara would tend to the property of the 71-year-old, lighting his fire and assisting in domestic needs.

The defence had asked the jury to find his client not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

The Central Criminal Court jury found McNamara unanimously guilty of murder. He was given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan on January 24, 2014.

Opening an appeal against conviction yesterday, McNamara’s barrister, Michael Bowman, submitted to the three-judge court that there was more for the jury to consider than “kill or cause serious harm” or whether it was murder or not.

Mr Bowman said the jury should have been fully informed of the options they had to consider including “complex concepts” such as recklessness, subjectivity, and capacity to form intent.

It was not “black and white” and not “either or”, Mr Bowman said. He said the medical evidence confirmed the unpredictability of the injuries.

The court heard that Mr Boyce had been the victim of an assault with a long striking edge and that the fatal injuries were those on his neck where multiple fractures of the larynx were found. If there was any grey area, the grey area falls to be resolved in favour of the accused, Mr Bowman said.

Counsel for the DPP, Micheál P O’Higgins said the jury were “very carefully” instructed by the trial judge on the ingredients for murder, particularly the mental element.

Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, reserved judgment.

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