Children tell of watching stepdad's stabbing

"I think about it all the time," a 13-year-old girl told the Central Criminal Court today, referring to the day her stepfather was stabbed to death in front of her.

"I think about it all the time," a 13-year-old girl told the Central Criminal Court today, referring to the day her stepfather was stabbed to death in front of her.

The child, who cannot be named because of her age, was giving evidence in the trial of a Ballyfermot man, accused of the 41-year-old’s murder.

Darren Rogers (aged 21) of Elmdale Park, Ballyfermot, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Thomas Farrell of Cherry Orchard Avenue, also in Ballyfermot, on November 27, 2003.

In the fifth day of evidence before a jury of seven men and five women, the schoolgirl recalled the evening of November 26, 2003, when her mother discovered two youths attempting to steal her partner’s car.

She identified the accused as being the person in the driver seat and his friend, Kenneth Murphy, as being the man in the passenger seat. "They got out of the car and my mam told him (the deceased) to get the hammer to threaten them."

"He bent down to get the hammer," she sobbed, explaining that he was in the hall, looking in the toolbox under the stairs.

"He (Darren Rogers) ran in and stabbed him in the back. My Da stood up and said: ‘My back’". She told the court that she then saw the accused break something from the car and throw it into the house before Mr Murphy pulled him away.

The girl’s 12-year-old brother also gave evidence by video-link today. He was 11 when he saw his stepfather being killed. He told the court that Mr Farrell "went out to the front bonnet and hit it and went back in" before looking for the hammer.

After the assault, he said, his stepfather "stood up and started shaking and he fell into the sitting room chair". He also recalled that after stabbing the deceased, Darren Rogers, got back into the car and tried again to take it. This witness too saw Kenneth Murphy pulling the accused away.

The court also heard from the state pathologist. From her post-mortem examination on Mr Farrell, Dr Marie Cassidy concluded that he "died as a result of a single stab wound to the back" and that he "bled to death from this injury despite medical intervention". Dr Cassidy said that only minimum force would have been required to inflict this injury.

She agreed with Defence Counsel, Fergal Kavanagh SC, that many people do not appreciate how easy it is to kill someone with a knife, but did not agree that a person would fail to realise s/he had stabbed someone. "They may be unaware of how deeply they’ve penetrated," she explained.

The pathologist said that in Mr Farrell’s case, the knife had gone in between the seventh and eighth ribs and through the lung and heart. It had cut the pulmonary artery in the lung and created an entrance and exit wound in the heart.

She noted that during surgery in St James’ Hospital just one of these wounds was stitched, and admitted that without being repaired, two open wounds would continue bleeding and result in death.

Dr Cassidy also noted the absence of defensive injuries on Mr Farrell’s body.

The forensic evidence in this case was heard yesterday, with Detective Garda Shane Henry saying he could not explain why a hammer found at the scene and featuring in many witness statements was not forensically examined.

The ballistics expert said the bag into which he put the hammer would have been sealed with sellatape, but when shown the bag by Mr Kavanagh SC, he admitted: "This bag was not sealed".

The dust found on the couch under the hammer was also not examined, with Mr Kavanagh complaining that if it was "we might know if the hammer had come into contact with the car".

Dr Fiona Thornton was the final witness to give evidence today. The forensic scientist examined a number of samples taken at the scene for the purpose of extracting DNA profiles.

She said the DNA profile found in blood on the cowling of Mr Farrell’s car matched that of Kenneth Murphy as did the blood found on the armrest and on the ignition wires. Blood that had a washed-off appearance to the forensics team was found on the accused’s runners.

It also matched Kenneth Murphy’s DNA profile. Dr Thornton concluded that "Thomas Farrell was excluded as a source of DNA on Darren Rogers’ clothes" and vice versa.

The trial continues tomorrow, when it is expected Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne will hear from the last two prosecution witnesses in the case.

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