No family present to hear guilty verdict against woman's killer

There were no family members or relatives present for Rebecca Hoban in the Central Criminal Court today when a 44-year-old UK man was found guilty of her manslaughter.

There were no family members or relatives present for Rebecca Hoban in the Central Criminal Court today when a 44-year-old UK man was found guilty of her manslaughter.

Her killer, Clive Butcher, gave no reaction when the jury returned their majority verdict of not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter, following nearly four and a half hours of deliberations.

Mr Butcher, who is originally from the UK but has an address on Ranelagh Road in Dublin, had denied murdering Ms Hoban, but had admitted killing her on December 17, 2008.

The State refused to accept his guilty-to-manslaughter plea however and went ahead with the murder trial.

During the five days of evidence, the court heard that Mr Butcher had been in a relationship with 28-year-old Rebecca Hoban for around a year before he killed her.

The two, who were homeless and addicted to drugs, had met while sleeping rough in the Phoenix Park.

In December 2008, Ms Hoban had been staying with Mr Butcher at his temporary accommodation in Ranelagh, on her release from prison.

They spent December 17 together, trying to buy drugs in Dublin city centre, before returning to the bedsit at around 5 pm, where they smoked heroin.

During the day, Rebecca had texted the accused saying “I love you Mr C. Butcher.”

Just before 7pm, Mr Butcher rang 999 and asked for an ambulance to be sent quickly saying Rebecca was “dying rapidly on the floor”.

He told the operator he was an “evil f***er” who had just stabbed a woman three or four times.

Ms Hoban had been stabbed six times in the back. Her knife wounds, one of which was 19cm deep, caused her lungs to collapse and she inhaled an extensive amount of blood.

While receiving instructions over the phone on how to administer CPR, Mr Butcher muttered: “I have to save your f***ing life I suppose haven't I?”

In his interviews with gardaí, he described a “violent struggle” after a row had broken out over money for drugs.

He said Rebecca snatched up a bread knife and came towards him threatening to cut him, and that she was acting like she was “possessed”.

Mr Butcher said he grabbed her hand, twisted her arm behind her back and pressed her up against the wall, and that's when the knife must have “went in”.

He didn't realise she'd been stabbed he said until he saw blood and she slid to the floor.

“I'm sorry it happened I loved the girl” he told gardai.

But in his evidence to the court, Detective Sergeant James Byrne said Mr Butcher had made an impromptu murder confession to him - a confession that was not recorded on videotape and that was made while no other gardaí were present.

He said the accused told him he “did her” because he believed Rebecca was going to kill him along with another man, hide his body and take his money.

Mr Justice George Birmingham however urged the jury to think “long and hard” about this piece of evidence. He reminded them of the Dean Lyons case, saying that at least once in our history, a drug addict had been unreliable when it came to confessing to murder.

After four and a half hours of deliberations spread over two days, the jury returned their majority 10-2 verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

Mr Butcher is due to be sentenced on April 26.

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