Former heroin addict loses appeal against conviction for murdering friend in Cork

A former heroin addict jailed for life for the murder of his friend during an argument over drugs has has his conviction upheld by the Court of Appeal.

Former heroin addict loses appeal against conviction for murdering friend in Cork

A former heroin addict jailed for life for the murder of his friend during an argument over drugs has has his conviction upheld by the Court of Appeal.

Peter Jackson (aged 42), of Kerryhall Road, Fairhill, Co Cork had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the murder of Wexford man David Hamilton (aged 31) on May 4, 2012 at a house on Kerryhall Road.

He was found guilty by a jury and was given the mandatory life sentence by Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy on November 23, 2015.

During the trial, the court heard that Mr Jackson and Mr Hamilton were heroin users who went to a house on Kerryhall Road on May 4, 2012 to inject heroin.

Ms Pamela McHale (aged 26) from Cork, who was a friend of Mr Jackson, told the court that they had bought two bags of heroin earlier that day worth €50 each.

An argument started after Mr Jackson had cooked up the first bag of heroin and injected himself and Ms McHale but had difficulty finding a vein to inject Mr Hamilton.

"Peter and Dave got in a fight," she said. "He was trying to pull the foil off Peter and Peter gave him a dig and Dave gave Peter a dig. Peterpicked something up from the table and he swung."

Jackson moved to appeal his conviction last week through his barristers Dominic McGinn SC and James Burke BL instructed by solicitor Eddie Burke.

Mr McGinn said it was the defence's case that there was simply no evidence in the case to establish the necessary mental element of the crime.

Mr McGinn said there was evidence which tended to rebut the presumption that Jackson should be presumed to have intended the natural and probable consequences of his conduct.

But the trial judge failed to engage with how that presumption could have been rebutted by certain evidence, he submitted.

Dismissing this ground today, Mr Justice Birmingham said the Court of Appeal entirely agreed with the judge that this was not a case for a direction.

He said it was accepted that the judge dealt with the question of the presumption at several stages but was criticised for using the same language on each occasion, that she did not engage with the facts of the case and did not contextualise the presumption issue.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the court had fully and thoroughly considered the arguments and was quite satisfied that the criticisms were unfounded.

He said the trial judge's charge dealt with the ingredients for the offence of murder, the mental element required for murder and the relevance of the rebuttable presumption impecabbly. The phrase “textbook charge” came to mind.

The difficulty for the defence was that if one stabs someone in the chest with a steak knife with a 10-inch blade the conclusion that at least serious injury was intended “is overwhelming”, the judge said.

Turning to other grounds, Mr Justice Birmingham said the court was satisfied that the trial judge's remarks did not undermine the right to silence in an impermissible manner. Quite simply the remarks made were ones the judge was entitled to make.

He said the court saw no merit in the argument that the trial judge failed to instruct the jury on the option to disagree in a timely manner.

The trial judge might well have declined the defence request but given that she did not and in fact acceded to the defence request, this ground of appeal was rejected.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Hedigan, said the court was not pursuaded that the trial was unsatisfactory or the conviction unsafe.

The appeal was therefore dismissed.

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