Cork man found guilty of murder

A Cork man was today found guilty of the murder of Mr Gerard Hackett, aged 49, at the Central Criminal Court.

A Cork man was today found guilty of the murder of Mr Gerard Hackett, aged 49, at the Central Criminal Court.

After deliberating for four hours and fifteen minutes, the jury of nine men and three women returned a guilty majority verdict to murder.

Mark Allingham, aged 23, of Fr Murphy Place had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Gerard Hackett of Cork Simon Community on an unknown date between October 16 and 21, 2002.

Imposing sentence, Mr Justice Dairmuid O'Donovan, said the only option available to him was a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Mr Allingham collapsed, as the verdict was returned, sobbing heavily with his head in his hands; the 23-year-old Cork man was alone in the courtroom.

The family of Gerard Hackett sighed with relief as they sat at the back of court two in the Central Criminal Court.

Addressing the jury, Mr Justice Diarmuid O'Donovan commended their duty over the six-day trial and released the jury members from service for the next fifteen years.

The six-day trial saw Allingham admit to gardaí - in a recorded video interview - to killing Hackett with an axe seven times in the head after he allegedly tried to have sex with him at a derelict house known as The Rock, Towns Park, Midleton, Co Cork.

During the murder trial, the jury heard compelling evidence from the State Pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy who said the victim, "died from head injuries as a result from a sustained and severe assault".

The "extraordinary large number of wounds", Dr Cassidy said, that were inflicted to Mr Hackett’s torso and skull were "consistent with blows from an axe". The State Pathologist held the alleged murder weapon, a wooden handled axe with a red blade, in her hand and said, "a weapon like this could have caused the injuries".

Addressing the jury, Dr Cassidy outlined a litany of wounds Mr Hackett suffered in the final moments of his life. The deceased had two fractures to the top of the head, multiple fractures to the nose, cheekbones and jaws, lacerations to the hands and legs and large bruising to the brain.

Mr Hackett "was partly clothed but had some bruising to the penis which was highly suggestive of a sexual nature to the assault," Dr Cassidy told the jury during the murder trial at the Central Criminal Court.

When asked under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Mr John O'Kelly, SC, was the assault consistent with a frenzied attack, Dr Cassidy said "it was a sustained attack and was an example of overkill" .

The jury were also shown by Garda Brendan Coughlan, exhibits officer in the murder trial, the total alleged murder weapons including a bloodied concrete block, a four foot metal pipe, an iron bar, a six foot metal gutter and a spear-like metal bar.

The jury was shown the videotaped interview that gardaí conducted with Mr Allingham on October 21, 2002 when he admitted to killing Mr Hackett with a hatchet.

When Detective Sgt Brian Goulding first asked Mr Allingham what was his intention when he produced the axe on Mr Hackett, the accused replied," to give him a few slaps".

"Did you intend to kill Mr Hackett?," Detective Sgt Goulding then asked the accused. "I suppose so, yeah," Mr Allingham replied.

The jury also saw in the recorded interview that Mr Allingham say he is bisexual and that he believed Mr Hackett was a homosexual.

Mr Allingham also told gardaí that he rang 999 two days after he had killed Mr Hackett, giving a false name and telling gardaí that there was a dead body in a derelict house.

"I rang 999 and asked for Midleton garda station," Mr Allingham said. Detective Sgt Goulding then asked how he knew there was a dead body in The Rock, Towns Park, Midleton. The jury then saw Mr Allingham on screen say he knew Mr Hackett was there "because I killed him".

"How did you kill him?," Detective Sgt Goulding then asked, to which Mr Allingham said, "with an axe" in the "head and in the legs".

The jury then saw Mr Allingham say, "He was trying to have sex with me and I snapped".

Dr John Thompson, who was GP to the accused from birth, told the jury under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Mr John O'Kelly, SC, that Mr Allingham's home life from a child was "far from ideal".

Mr Allingham's mother, Dr Thompson said was "depressed from time to time" and it was generally a dysfunctional family.

From an early age, Dr Thompson said Mr Allingham showed early signs of "emotional upset". In 1986, Dr Thompson said Mr Allingham, aged just six years of age, was taken into care with his two brothers.

Dr Thompson told the jury that Mr Allingham had attempted suicide on one occasion and "binged drank".

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