Murder trial witness admits lying to gardaí

The main witness in the case of a 22-year-old man on trial for murdering another man during a botched drug collection, has admitted that he lied to gardaí about the events.

The main witness in the case of a 22-year-old man on trial for murdering another man during a botched drug collection, has admitted that he lied to gardaí about the events.

In his evidence to the Central Criminal Court, Thomas Maher said he did not want gardaí to know he and his best friend, the deceased Paul Keegan, were involved in a “substantial drugs collection” at the time of his death.

“There were a few lies thrown into my first statement...I was just making things up as I went along. I wasn't in the right frame of mind," he admitted under cross-examination.

"I didn't realise the seriousness of the situation...didn't realise Paul was dead."

Counsel for the defence, Ms Isobel Kennedy SC, asked the witness: “If you're willing to lie to the gardaíi, what's to stop you lying (now)?

The 28-year-old van driver replied: “I'm here to give the true story today...I'm under oath here, that makes a big difference.”

Mr Maher is the main eye-witness in the trial of Warren Graham, of Shancastle Lawn in Clondalkin.

The accused denies murdering Mr Keegan (aged 42), in a lane off Cherryfield Road, Walkinstown in December 2007.

He has also pleaded not guilty to having an imitation firearm by joint enterprise, with intention to commit robbery on the same date.

The alleged firearm is a Mac II Ingram 6mm air gun, designed to look like a small Uzi sub machine-gun.

The accused later admitted to gardaí that he knifed Mr Keegan in the back at the instruction of his friend, who was being punched in the head by the deceased.

Taking the witness stand today, Mr Maher told the jury that on the evening in question, Mr Keegan agreed to drive him to Walkinstown in his Nissan jeep, to collect some “blow”.

Mr Maher said he was asked to collect the drugs as a favour and that Mr Keegan was to get a “bar of hash” for driving him there.

The witness repeatedly denied that he was to be paid €2,000 for the collection: “I wish it was for money, at least I would have been there for a purpose.”

Once they got to Walkinstown, they followed a black Volkswagon Golf into a laneway to collect the cannabis.

But Mr Maher said that once he got out of the jeep and approached the car, its driver, Philip Furlong, walked towards him and swung what he thought was an Uzi machine gun in his face.

Mr Maher said he backed away with his hands in the air as a second man came towards him, armed with a large hunting knife and screaming for his keys and his phone.

He remained adamant that Mr Keegan was the last person to walk into the lane despite repeated questioning on the issue from the defence.

Mr Maher said he made a grab for the accused who was holding the knife, a struggle broke out and he managed to break free and run down the lane.

When he stopped to look back, he saw Mr Keegan struggling with both the accused and Mr Furlong at the jeep.

Mr Maher said he ran away again when he saw the accused coming towards him.

He admitted it was “possible” that Mr Furlong was being punched “forcefully” in the head by the deceased, but he denied hearing him scream at the accused “Warren come back...help.”

The jury has been told that it will hear a number of statements the accused made to gardaí, in which he said he stabbed Mr Keegan in the back at the instruction of Mr Furlong.

Mr Graham said when he returned to the jeep after chasing Mr Maher down the lane, his friend, who was struggling with the deceased, shouted to “jab him, jab him” and he stabbed the deceased once in the back.

Mr Keegan sustained four stab wounds, one each to the heart, stomach, shoulder and back.

The trial resumes on Monday morning before the jury of six men and six women.

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