Accused may have been 'trying to wrestle knife from self-harming nephew when it entered the deceased', court hears

The barrister for a man charged with murdering another man in his home has suggested that his client was trying to wrestle the knife from his self-harming nephew when it entered the deceased man’s chest.

Accused may have been 'trying to wrestle knife from self-harming nephew when it entered the deceased', court hears

By Natasha Reid

The barrister for a man charged with murdering another man in his home has suggested that his client was trying to wrestle the knife from his self-harming nephew when it entered the deceased man’s chest.

Michael Bowman SC was cross-examining his client’s nephew in the Central Criminal Court trial of a 37-year-old a father of five, charged with murdering that nephew’s friend in Co Waterford.

Tadhg Butler, with an address at Seafield in Tramore, is accused of murdering 25-year-old Michael O’Dwyer on 10th January 2014. He has pleaded not guilty.

Denis Vaughan Buckley SC, prosecuting, read out the statement made later that day by Mr Butler’s nephew, Tony O’Grady. He told the gardaí that his uncle had simply walked up to the deceased and stuck a butcher’s knife into his chest during a party in Mr Butler’s home.

However, the 25-year-old told the court that he had no recollection of giving that statement or of any of the events from that time, as he was on medication for mental disorders and was a drug addict at the time.

Under cross-examination by Mr Bowman, he agreed that his client had previously wrestled implements from him to prevent him self-harming.

He agreed that he would have been upset that night as it was approaching the anniversary of the death of his only sibling, who had died of a drug overdose outside a Dublin takeaway.

He agreed that he could have taken a knife from the kitchen with the intention of harming himself, and could have said that he wanted to end it all.

He agreed that his uncle could have tried to intervene and that he could have resisted.

“And he (the accused) struggled to take the knife off you, and he forcibly pulled the knife out of your hand in circumstances where Mr O’Dwyer was standing beside him or behind him and the knife went into him?” suggested Mr Bowman. “Could that be possible. Could it reasonably be true?”

“Yes, it could, but I’ve no recollection,” agreed Mr O’Grady.

The jury also heard that Mr O’Dwyer had died of a single stab wound to his chest.

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy had carried out a post-mortem exam on his body following his death in hospital hours after receiving the wound.

She told Mr Vaughan Buckley that he had received the penetrating injury between ribs on the front of his body. She said that his hospital notes showed that a litre and a half of blood had been drained from inside his chest cavity and that blood had also been suctioned out of his upper airways.

He was taken to theatre, where a wound was also noted in the tissues around his heart. An attempt was made to stem the bleeding but the procedure was eventually abandoned. He appeared to have developed a blood clotting abnormality, the bleeding could not be controlled and he was pronounced dead.

She concluded that he died from a single stab wound to the left of his chest, that injured his heart and left lung

She said there had been a single forward thrust into body and that the direction appeared to be upwards towards the middle of the body. There were no defensive or other injuries.

She agreed with Mr Bowman that, once the skin was pierced, no extra force would have been needed to drive the blade in further.

The trial continues tomorrow morning before Mr Justice Paul Butler and a jury of six men and six women.

More in this section

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence