Bray man gets 10-year sentence for stab manslaughter

A Bray man has been sentenced to 10 years for manslaughter today at the Central Criminal Court.

A Bray man has been sentenced to 10 years for manslaughter today at the Central Criminal Court.

Father-of-one, Richard O’Carroll, aged 34, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Keith Fortune, aged 27, in the hours of May 2, 1999 outside the William Dargan pub in Bray.

His guilty to manslaughter plea was entered and accepted by the State 10 days after a jury failed to reach a verdict in his murder trial in January.

Mr O’Carroll with addresses at Greenpark Road, Bray, and Cois Sleibhe, Southern Cross Road, Bray pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Keith Fortune of Hazelwood Upper, Dargle Road, Bray.

Mr Fortune allegedly died as a result of an incident at the "William Dargan Inn", Goldsmith Terrace, on Quinsboro Road in Bray in the early hours of May 2, 1999. He was in the company of family celebrating the christening of a child earlier that day.

Supt Philip Moynihan, investigating officer in the case, told the court that Mr O’Carroll had been convicted of the murder of Mr Fortune in December 2002 at the Central Criminal Court but this conviction was set aside by the Court of Criminal Appeal and a re-trial was ordered.

At his re-trial last January, a jury of five women and seven men failed to reach a verdict after 9 hours and 18 minutes.

Supt Moynihan told the court that "matters arose" after the first trial. At the close of the first trial in 2002, Supt Moynihan said the trial judge and jury were threatened by Mr O’Carroll.

Addressing the court, Supt Moynihan said Mr O’Carroll had 19 previous convictions including public order offences, misuse of drugs offences and an offence for assault causing actual bodily harm.

Before imposing sentence Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said the matter was at the "extreme end of manslaughter".

Judge Dunne said in Mr O’Carroll’s probation report there was a "certain element of denial". Mr O’Carroll, Judge Dunne said, told his probation officer that he had been "unaware that Keith Fortune had been stabbed" the next day.

Judge Dunne said she had a "difficulty" regarding the "comment or reference made to a previous trial judge and jury". The judge said it was "difficult to reconcile with expressions of regret" but it was better to "put that out of my mind when dealing with matters".

Last month, when O’Carroll pleaded guilty to manslaughter, Mr Justice Paul Carney told the court; "I am disqualifying myself because this man threatened me."

Today, when imposing sentence, Judge Dunne said she "had in mind a sentence of 12 years", however taking into account mitigating factors the judge imposed a sentence of 10 years.

This sentence, Judge Dunne said, is to take into consideration the four and a half years Mr O’Carroll has already served.

During the nine-day trial last January in which the jury failed to reach a verdict the court heard that the accused told gardaí when arrested he didn’t "intend to stab" the deceased allegedly saying: "It was him or me."

"Keith said something, a smart remark," O’Carroll allegedly told gardaí. "I exchanged some words with him. Then I saw the knife come out of his sleeve. I quickly head-butted him. A scuffle followed and we wrestled around with the knife and Keith got stabbed."

O’Carroll also allegedly told gardaí: "I took the knife from Keith Fortune and we were still struggling. I can’t remember what happened the knife. Someone could have taken it off me."

The former partner of the accused man, Ms Stephanie Carroll told the jury the deceased man allegedly slagged Mr O’Carroll about their Down’s Syndrome baby daughter in the pub on the night in question.

The court heard that Richard O’Carroll had an eight-month-old baby daughter with Down’s Syndrome at the time of killing.

The accused man’s former partner, told the jury Mr Fortune asked him "how the mongo was", referring to their baby daughter on the night of the fatal stabbing.

Ms Carroll told the jury that shortly after midnight the deceased man "nodded to Richie to go outside" the pub. Ms Carroll understood this to mean that the deceased man wanted to fight with her partner.

Ms Carroll said the accused man followed Mr Fortune outside after a few minutes.

"I could see them fighting through the glass door of the pub", she told the jury.

When Ms Carroll went outside to the fight she managed successfully to stop the fight, pulling the two men apart from each other.

Mr Fortune, she said put his hand to his stomach. As Ms Carroll turned around to her former partner she saw him holding a knife in his left hand. Mr O’Carroll, she said was saying: "Oh my god, Oh my god".

"I asked Richie what the fuck did you do that for and he said: 'I don’t know'," Ms Carroll said.

Ms Justice Dunne deemed two sisters, Jacqueline and Loretta Smith to be hostile witnesses.

Neither could "remember anything" of the night of the fatal stabbing although both gave detailed statements to gardaí in May 1999. Both sisters told gardaí in 1999 that they were with the deceased man as he lay dying in the William Dargan Inn almost six years ago.

Former State Pathologist, Professor John Harbison told the jury Mr Fortune’s death was a result of "shock and haemorrage due to the accumulation of blood in the chest and abdomen due to stab wounds to the heart, left lung and liver".

Prof Harbison said the deceased man was stabbed four times in the chest with one wound having "multiple thrusts".

"The person wielding the knife stabbed then withdrew the knife but not completely and then stabbed again. This indicated a close combat", Prof Harbison said.

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