The jury in the trial of the man charged with murdering Shane Geoghegan has failed to reach a verdict after 15 and a half hours deliberating.
The five men and five women returned to the courtroom in the Central Criminal Court at 5pm today, having first retired to consider the evidence on Friday afternoon.
“The jury would like to know how to proceed if we believe it will never be possible to agree a unanimous verdict,” asked the foreman.
“You fill in the words: ‘Cannot agree’, on the issue paper and sign it,” replied Mr Justice Paul Carney.
“Can I request a pen?” asked the foreman, who then filled in the issue paper and returned it.
The judge looked at the paper, thanked the jurors and discharged them from jury service for the rest of their lives.
Ms Geoghegan’s family and girlfriend, who had attended every day of the four-week trial, sat silently with their heads bowed while the 25-year-old accused smiled at members of his family, who had also attended the entire trial.
Father-of-three Barry Doyle had pleaded not guilty to murdering the 28-year-old Garryowen rugby player in a case of mistaken identity more than two years ago.
Mr Geoghegan was shot dead across the road from his home in Clonmore, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, on November 9, 2008.
Doyle, a former bricklayer of Portland Row, Dublin; and Hyde Road, Limerick, admitted shooting him in video-taped garda interviews, but argued during his trial that he had been induced into the confession.
The trial heard that shortly before one o’clock that Sunday morning the deceased was walking the two-minute stroll from a friend’s house to the home he shared with his girlfriend, Jenna Barry.
He had captained Garryowen that Saturday and had watched a rugby match in this friend’s house afterwards.
Ms Barry last heard from her boyfriend at 12.54am, when he texted to say he would be home in a minute. Moments later she heard shots outside their house, looked out and saw a person running towards a car.
“The wheels were screeching and someone was shouting: ‘Drive’,” she testified on the second day of the trial.
She dialled 999 and texted Mr Geoghegan to tell him that she thought there had been a shooting.
State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy found five gunshot wounds on the victim, one to the back of the head. The bullet had transected the brain stem and this would have caused rapid death, she said.
A wound to his shoulder was potentially fatal too and was also sustained when he was facing away from his attacker, possibly at the same time.
A shot to his back could have been inflicted when he was facing his attacker and crouching, she said.
She said that the different trajectories of the five wounds confirmed that one or both parties were moving. She recovered three bullets from his body.
Doyle’s then girlfriend testified that he had texted her around 8pm that Saturday to say he was going to turn off his phone, that he had something to do.
Victoria Gunnery explained that Doyle had moved to Limerick in 2008, while she remained in Dublin with their baby, who had a hole in her heart.
She said that when Doyle switched his phone back on around 1.30am on the Sunday, she texted him to ask why he had turned it off.
“He told me to read the teletext in the morning,” she testified.
She said she did this and learned that a man had been shot in Limerick.
She said that he rang her from Turkey some days later and asked what the newspapers were saying about the murder.
“They know it’s you because they say it’s a very close associate of Patrick Doyle,” she informed him, referring to the defendant’s brother.
“He said they had no proof,” she recalled in court.
She said that when Doyle returned to Ireland at Christmas, she asked him what he thought about what he did.
“I don’t think about it,” he replied.
When she mentioned Mr Geoghegan being an innocent man, Doyle replied: “If it wasn’t an innocent man, there wouldn’t be so much hype.”
Both Ms Gunnery and Doyle were arrested on February 24, 2009, Ms Gunnery for possession of information, Doyle on suspicion of the murder.
Doyle was interviewed 23 times over a number of days, denying any involvement until after a consultation with his solicitor.
In interview 15 on February 26, he admitted shooting Shane Geoghegan seven or eight times, which tallied with ballistics evidence. He admitted chasing him into a back garden on the victim’s cul-de-sac and shooting him in the back of the head.
“He was leaning against the wall when I shot him and he just slid down,” he recalled.
He told gardaí that his gun jammed and that he pulled back the slide two or three times, which was confirmed by the finding of two un-discharged casings on the street. The Glock pistol used was never discovered.
Doyle admitted that he never met Shane Geoghegan before and that Mr Geoghegan was an innocent man. He accepted that the shooting had been a mistake and said he was sorry.
He would not say why he had shot him but agreed that it was his intention to kill him.
After his first admission, he took white plastic rosary beads from around his neck and asked the gardaí to give them to Mr Geoghegan’s ‘Ma’.
Defence barrister Martin O’Rourke argued that there had been inducement and psychological pressure by the gardaí before the admissions.
He said the detectives were asking Doyle to tell them what they wanted to hear so that Ms Gunnery could return home to their sick child, who was due to have a heart scan the day they were arrested.
The jury heard that Doyle’s solicitor, Michael O’Donnell, had tried to do ‘a deal’ with investigating gardaí on behalf of his client. Mr O’Donnell had told them that Doyle would confess if Ms Gunnery was first released from custody.
Detective Sergeant Mark Phillips told the court that he and his colleague rejected this deal, knowing that any admissions made this way would constitute inducement and wouldn’t stand up in court.
He agreed that the admissions came immediately after this meeting with the solicitor but said that Mr O’Donnell knew there was no deal.
A juror was discharged before deliberations began on Friday as his father had become ill. Another was discharged yesterday as he had a flight to catch. The 10 remaining jurors were told their verdict must be unanimous.
Their deliberation was one of the longest in the history of the State, and they knew that more time would not help their decision.
Mr Justice Carney said the accused should be remanded in the same condition as he had arrived and put the case back into the court list for an expected retrial.