A father of two has been jailed for 10 years Judge Desmond Hogan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for strangling a Cavan man who had beaten him with his walking stick.
Thomas O’Reilly told gardaí he continued watching a programme about the Pope on Sky News after he heard "a croaking sound" when he put his hands around the neck of Mr Ben Carrolin who fell back in his armchair.
O’Reilly (aged 33), of Mountjoy Street, Dublin 1, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Carrolin (aged 58) at St George’s Place on April 21, 2005. Mr Carrolin was originally from Virgina, Co Cavan, but had been living in the north inner city for a number of years.
Judge Hogan said he took into account the emotional and physical abuse suffered by O’Reilly from the deceased and that O’Reilly went to gardai and confessed when contacted by his girlfriend.
He told gardaí he thought Mr Carrolin was asleep after his action that night but when he woke up and realised that the victim was dead "he just walked away".
"I do not know how to describe this but it seems to me to be casual at the very least. However the bottom line is that a life was snuffed out," Judge Hogan said.
He noted that reports indicated O’Reilly was at a high risk of re-offending unless he dealt with his drink problem and he suspended the final two years of the sentence on conditions including that O'Reilly attend an alcohol treatment programme and obey all the instructions he was given on it.
Detective Sergeant Gerard McDonnell told Mr Sean Gillane BL, prosecuting that O’Reilly’s ex-partner, Ms Rachel Lackin, contacted gardaí after she received a call from him saying he had "done him in".
"He has been raping me for years and he hit me on the back with his cane. He is not around anymore to hurt me. He is asleep," O’Reilly told her.
Gardaí forced their way in to his flat and found Mr Carrolin lying fully clothed in bed after they had been contacted by concerned neighbours who said they hadn’t seen him that day and his "meals on wheels" dinner was sitting outside his door.
Post mortem results concluded that Mr Carrolin had died of manual strangulation after bruising was found on his body which was consistent with neck compression.
Det Sgt McDonnell said he spoke to O’Reilly on the phone three days later while he was in Gorey, Co Wexford and convinced him to "hand himself" into the local station there after Ms Lackin called him to say she was giving a statement to gardaí.
The two men had known each other for 12 years and while Mr Carrolin told people that O’Reilly was his son and O’Reilly referred to him as his uncle, there was no blood relationship between them.
O’Reilly told gardaí that he had in the past woken with his underpants down to find Mr Carrolin playing with his penis but said he had forgiven him for that.
He said they had been drinking in the flat that night when Mr Carrolin started to hit him with his cane. He told him to stop and Mr Carrolin said he was dying from cancer and had only four months to live.
Det Sgt McDonnell said O’Reilly told them that when he woke up later, following the Pope programme, and saw that Mr Carrolin was still sitting in the arm chair he moved him to his bed and pulled the covers over him "to keep him warm". He noticed there was bruises on his neck so he put Sudocrem on it and left the flat.
O’Reilly told gardaí he threw the keys from the flat into the canal and said a prayer in a local church to ask for forgiveness.
Det Sgt McDonnell said O’Reilly was taking a variety of medication at the time for depression and for his nerves. He had 14 previous convictions and had been in custody since presenting himself to gardai in Gorey,
Det Sgt McDonnell agreed with Ms Isobel Kennedy SC, (Ms Caroline Biggs BL), defending, that O'Reilly had a "difficult and dysfunctional childhood", having spent time in care and had numerous psychiatric problems. He had difficulty managing himself and dealing with everyday life.
He accepted that O’Reilly was deeply remorseful and regretful for what he had done. He had lived with Mr Carrolin from time to time and had on occasion bathed, dressed and fed him.
Ms Kennedy told Judge Hogan that the death of one of O’Reilly’s siblings the year previous to the offence had a significant affect on him. He had been a "model prisoner" and had attended bible studies while in custody.