A Co Clare man who strangled a woman before dumping her body will be sentenced to life imprisonment tomorrow after being found guilty of her murder.
FAS worker Colm Deely (aged 41), of School Road in Ballyvaughan, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Deirdre McCarthy (aged 43), between 11pm on March 27, 2011 and noon the following day.
But the jury of seven women and five men found the father-of-two guilty by unanimous verdict after two hours and 58 minutes of deliberation at the Central Criminal Court.
Mr Justice Barry White thanked the jury before excusing them from further service for life.
The court heard Ms McCarthy’s body was found on Fanore Beach four days after she went missing and that Deely did not take part in the search to find her.
It also heard that after her body was found Deely had attempted to take his own life by stabbing himself in the stomach and was hospitalised.
Ms McCarthy, who worked in a B&B in Ballyvaughan was a mutual friend of Deely’s and he had known her for up to 20 years.
She was also a friend of Deely’s wife and was a witness at their wedding, the court heard.
Witnesses at the trial said they were not aware that Deely and Ms McCarthy were romantically involved.
Ms McCarthy was socialising in a local pub with friends including Deely on the night she went missing.
The accused’s sister Catriona Lucas told Mr Paul Greene SC prosecuting that her brother rang her from a house he was watching for somebody else the day after the body was found.
She said Deely told her that he had said goodnight to his children and that this made her a little uneasy because he repeated that he had done so.
Ms Lucas said Deely told her he and Ms McCarthy had been “together” and she told him that “he could forget about the money and she wanted more” saying she would tell his wife and two boys.
Deely told gardaí in an interview that he went to Ms McCarthy’s house where he said he was drinking a lot of vodka and the pair were lying on the bed.
“We were kissing and cuddling, I can’t remember if we had sex”, he said.
“She said you can forget about your money…she was laughing at me,” Mr Deely told gardaí.
“I must have rolled over and was holding her by the neck…it all happened in a flash,” he said.
When asked in the interview if putting his hands around her neck caused her death he said: “I’d say so, but I did not mean it.”
“I was just lying on the bed…I put my hand on her neck and hurt her,” he added.
“I panicked…I did not know what to do”, he said.
He said he removed her from the house by “half lifting and half dragging her” and when he put her in the car she was not breathing nor answering him.
“I stopped the car…I put her over the wall…she rolled down to the sea…Jesus, I didn’t mean any of it,” he said.
“I lifted her out and put her over the wall…I could hear her rolling down to the sea”, he added.
“I meant none of it to happen…something went out of control,” he said.
Deely’s counsel Mr Martin Giblin SC defending had raised the defences of provocation and of lack of intent during the trial.
The prosecution said there was no evidence to say that Deely has a propensity to lose self-control, which is necessary for a defence of provocation.
Mr Greene said that Deely’s evidence that he was only intimate with Ms McCarthy on two occasions before he was married was not credible.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jabbar gave evidence that the cause of death was asphyxia due to manual strangulation and that blunt force trauma to the head, trunk and extremities was a contributing factor to the death.
But another pathologist Professor Jack Crane giving evidence for the defence told the court that bruising found on the body did not indicate Ms McCarthy was assaulted before she died.
Mr Justice White remanded Deely in custody and will sentence him tomorrow.