Josh Turner, aged 24, of Mooretown, Ratoath, Co Meath, was found guilty earlier this month of murdering Christopher Nevin, 27, at a house on Tailteann Rd in Navan on November 19, 2015.
Wayne Cluskey, aged 25, of the same address, was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter for his part in Mr Nevin’s death.
At a sentence hearing at the Central Criminal Court yesterday, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy sentenced Turner to life imprisonment. After hearing statements from Mr Nevin’s mother Mary and wife Lisa, the judge said he would sentence Cluskey next Monday.
Garda Michael Fitzpatrick read the statements in court. Lisa Nevin said her husband loved life. “He had a heart of gold and, if he had got the chance, he would have been a brilliant father.”
She described him as her life and her future.
“Without him, I just feel dead inside,” she said. “The last memory I have of my husband is lying in a pool of blood and I just wanted to help him and begged God, ‘don’t take him from me’.”
She said she has tried to take her own life four times and, despite the help of psychiatrists, she cannot come to terms with his death.
Mary Nevin described Turner as a “monster”, before telling the court that she missed her son.
“I miss his loud laugh, his smile,” she said. “I miss seeing him and his wife happy. I want to hold him and tell him that I love him, my poor child.”
She said she felt the same anger towards Cluskey.
Giving evidence at the hearing, Garda Fitzpatrick told Michael O’Higgins, prosecuting, that Turner has more than 200 convictions, all of them at the district court level. Most were for road traffic offences. He had one conviction for assault, one for unlawful possession of drugs, and one for criminal damage and robbery, for which he was sentenced to 10 months.
Cluskey has 41 previous convictions, all dealt with by the district court. He had one for assault causing harm, for which he was sentenced to five months. He had 15 for cruelty to animals.
Shane Costelloe, defending Cluskey, told Justice McCarthy his client left school aged 14. After the death of his father, he took over the family lands at Ratoath and made a modest living doing manual labour, selling logs, and leasing parts of the land. He asked Justice McCarthy to consider that although Cluskey ran into Mr Nevin and kicked off the violence that led to his victim’s death, he did not strike any of the fatal blows to Mr Nevin’s head. He said the jury’s decision to find him guilty of manslaughter meant they believed he was acting in defence of his friend when he “barrelled into” Mr Nevin, who was holding a hatchet and threatening Turner.
Mr Costelloe said Cluskey offered to plead guilty to manslaughter months before trial but the prosecution rejected the plea. He said his client is “deeply sorry and very, very, very remorseful” and there was never any intention to kill Mr Nevin, who Cluskey considered a friend.
Turner’s life sentence was backdated to November 25, 2015, when he was first put into custody following Mr Nevin’s death.