A judge has, for the first time, offered “restorative justice” at the Central Criminal Court to the
a man who was stabbed in the chest with a makeshift knife at Mountjoy prison in an apparent row over drugs.
However the family of Alan Green (aged 30), who was killed by fellow inmate Stephen Wall (aged 23), turned down the opportunity to meet with the accused outside of the court sitting, where it had been proposed they would be given an explanation about how he died.
The trial judge Mr Justice Paul Carney then sentenced Wall, with an address at Rathsalagh Park in Shankill, to six years in prison for the killing of Mr Green who was from Bray, which happened on the second floor of the B wing of the Dublin jail on January 27, 2004.
Mr Brendan Grehan SC, prosecuting, told the court a homemade “shiv” knife had been used. He said this was an ordinary butter knife that had been sharpened and bound with tape and thread to afford the user a grip.
He said gardaí had taken possession of the knife used and the clothing of the accused and connected them to the killing by blood analysis.
He said shortly after the incident Stephen Wall had a number of superficial cuts and had at that stage disposed of the clothes he was wearing.
The prosecution said he told gardaí he had received the cuts in a fight the previous day in the prison school, but when gardaí investigated, they found there had been no such fight.
When Dr Diane Daly from the Forensic Science Laboratory examined blood-staining surrounding two stab holes in the Celtic jersey worn by Wall, she found a DNA profile which indicated a mix of fluid from the accused and the deceased.
She reported this staining was what you would expect to find if the stab holes had been made with a bloodied knife, and she said in her view Alan Green had received the fatal stab wound to his chest, before any injury was inflicted on Stephen Wall.
Mr Grehan added: “Stephen Wall exercised his right to silence in giving any account of this matter.”
Mr Justice Carney then asked if the deceased’s family were looking for answers about this. When Mr Green’s parents replied that they were, the judge said: “there are mechanisms available to the court nowadays to bring that about.”
He said he had just returned from a conference in Edinburgh dedicated to this matter. He gave the family a chance to consider over lunch whether they wanted to engage in “restorative justice”, outside the court in the absence of any lawyers or judges in which “the accused faces the family and explains as best as he can why Mr Green was killed.”
He said: “If the Green family don’t want it, that’s the end of it. If they do it will result in a mitigation, in part, on the sentence.”
When the court resumed Mr Grehan said the Green family did not wish to engage in this process. The accused had agreed to take part. Passing sentence Mr Justice Carney said: “This is a case in which the prosecution is entirely reliant on the work of the Forensic Science Laboratory from the examination of various exhibits taken from Mountjoy.”
He said it seemed unsatisfactory that all the family of the accused had been told about how they lost their loved one was “from analysis of a jumper here and a knife there.”
However he said: “The family, as is their right took the view that they had not been offered any explanation up to now, and it was too late in the day for an explanation in this case.” He said the accused had a “horrendous list” of previous convictions, totalling 20, for burglary, theft and robbery.
He said both the accused and the deceased were in prison as a result of their drug addictions and it was difficult to know what to do with Wall who was caught up in this situation. He said: “Doing the best I can, I sentence him to six years in prison.”
Leave to appeal was refused in what Wall’s counsel Patrick Gageby SC said was the unlikely event that his client would seek to appeal this sentence. During the hearing Mr Gageby said a friend of the deceased said the fight between the two men could have been over some heroin she had given to Wall when visiting the prison, which was to be passed on to Mr Green.
This had not been passed on or shared sufficiently, creating “bad blood” between them. He pointed out that his client had pleaded guilty and had expressed remorse. The State Pathologist said only moderate force had been used in inflicting the fatal wound.
He said another witness had also claimed the killing happened during a fight in which the deceased may have originally been getting the better over the accused. Detective Inspector Colm Fox told the court Wall had originally shared a cell with Mr Green but they had cells opposite each other at the time of the incident.
On the day in question a prison officer said he saw Mr Green standing beside Wall before taking one step backwards and falling into his cell.
The makeshift knife had been thrown onto wire meshing and retrieved by another prisoner who put it into a toilet cistern.
The bloodied clothes had been put in a laundry cell bag in another cell. The deceased died from a single stab wound into his chest to a depth of 12 centimetres.