A boxer accused of murdering his former partner Nadine Lott told gardaí that he was "pounding" her and "punching like mad" and that if he had wanted to kill her he would have, his trial has heard.
When asked by gardaí how his hands were not badly damaged, Daniel Murtagh said he had "boxed for years and my knuckles are conditioned". "I knew she was with a lad in Arklow and I was just trying to get it out of her," he added.
Mr Murtagh also told officers: "You're trying to paint a picture of me trying to kill Nadine; if I wanted to kill her I'd kill her."
The jurors spent today listening to the third and fourth garda interviews in the trial of Mr Murtagh, who is charged with murdering his 30-year-old ex-partner Ms Lott on December 17, 2019. Mr Murtagh (34), of Melrose Grove, Bawnogue, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Ms Lott at her apartment in St Mary's Court, Arklow, Co Wicklow. His plea was not accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and he is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.
In his third interview with gardaí on December 15, Mr Murtagh was shown a photograph of his Volvo car following a traffic collision he had in Laragh the previous morning at 7.30am, several hours after assaulting Nadine. "That's my car, Jesus I hit a tree, I could have been killed. I see someone being very lucky, that was my car, I was very lucky," he said, adding that he "did not have a notion" of how he got there.
When asked where he had been for those three hours after leaving Nadine's house in Arklow and before the crash, Mr Murtagh said: "I haven't a clue, all I can say is I must have been driving around. If I hadn't hit the tree I would have driven to the garda station, I knew I hit Nadine, I knew I had to face the music."
The accused said he got "an awful fright" and "shit himself" after seeing blood coming out of his ex-girlfriend's nose and lips. "There was an awful lot of blood. She was breathing when I left, I knew she was alive," he added.
He told gardaí that if he had wanted to kill Nadine "she would be gone."
Asked about the comment he made to a motorist about his friend being with Nadine, he said: "I don't know, there is no friend". Moments later he told gardaí that anytime they would break up Nadine would "run" to this other named man, who he said she went out with for years.
Evidence has previously been given that Mr Murtagh told a motorist that he had "killed my wife because she was with my friend", just hours after he assaulted her. John Begley testified last week that he saw a car in a ditch as he was travelling over Bookies Bridge in Laragh on the morning of December 14 and then came across the accused man standing at the side of the road.
"Daniel said to me 'you don't know what I've done". I said what did you do. He said 'I killed my wife'. I didn't think anything of it. He said it a second time and said he hoped she was not dead. He said 'she was with my friend'," recalled Mr Begley.
When asked about an "object" on the floor of Nadine's sitting room, Mr Murtagh said it was a butter knife, which he had used to cut up a burger and a battered sausage that evening.
He denied hitting Nadine with a "big stand-up mirror" in the sitting room. The intensive care nurse previously told the jury that there were a lot of shards of reflective glass in the deceased's hair and her nose was continuously bleeding.
When gardaí put it to Mr Murtagh that something must have "went on" in the kitchen, the accused insisted that the altercation took place in the sitting room and said he could not tell them anymore.
"How does the frame of the mirror end up in the kitchen and in the bedroom?," asked the gardaí. In reply he said: "I don't know, it all happened in the sitting room. She was still on the sitting room floor when I left. She must have walked into the kitchen after I left, unless she walked in there and collapsed, everything I did was in the sitting room.
Forensic scientist Dr Stephen Clifford previously told the murder trial that the amount of blood splatter found in the kitchen of Nadine's apartment suggested there had been a "sustained assault" on her when she was lying on the floor there.
Mr Murtagh said he was in "a bit of a frenzy" that night and had hit Nadine with both hands. He said he could have hit her about eight times and might have hit her in the body.
He said he did not hit her too hard but he hoped she was okay. Nadine was alive and "well conscious" when he left the apartment, he remarked.
In his fourth and final interview on December 16, Mr Murtagh said he was a "million percent sure" Nadine was wearing clothes during the incident and was "not nude or anything".
He repeated that he was lying on the sofa and woke up when he heard her shouting and screaming. "I gave her a slap and she went back and onto the ground beside the cabinet," he indicated. He said the assault lasted for between three and four minutes and Nadine was talking when he left the apartment.
At one stage, Mr Murtagh said he was expecting to "make love" to his "girlfriend" when she returned home that night and not for an argument to start. He said he was "pissed off" and there was "a lot of anger".
He denied hitting Nadine with anything other than his fists and said he stood over her and was "pounding over her with digs". "I was hitting her for ten seconds, it wasn't four minutes," he added.
He said he didn't think it was "as bad" until he saw the blood coming out of her. "If you look at all our messages, we love each other. I know she was with a lad in Arklow and I was trying to get it out of her," he said.
The accused told gardaí that "she loves me and I love her" and the pair had been back seeing each other for the past six or seven weeks and were having "sex and everything". "This is the relationship we were keeping under the radar, we were going to break news to her family over the Christmas," he said.
Detectives put it to Mr Murtagh that there were "drag marks" on the carpet. Mr Murtagh asked how there could be drag marks saying: "I don't know how she got into the kitchen, she was probably dazed."
The accused told gardaí that Nadine's eyes were moving and he thought she would get up before he left the apartment that morning. "What am I after doing, I hit her harder than I thought," he said, blaming drink and drugs for putting him in this position.
When gardaí suggested to the accused that Nadine's injuries were "not just" from punches, he said: "I'm telling you straight I hit her with my hands. I hit her with my hands is all.
He continued: "It is just my hand guard, just my hand, nothing more I can say to you." He said he would have to live with this for the rest of his life.
Addressing gardaí he said: "Is the torture over now? There's the story, I hit my girlfriend too hard, just in the sitting room, that's all I have to say."
Mr Murtagh said his head was "fried, you thinking this is all premeditated, it wasn't. I was drunk." "In my head it wasn't me, it was me standing over her but in my head it wasn't me," he added.
He said he had just hit Nadine with his hand and if he had really wanted to kill her "let's be fair I'd go to kill her". He also said if he had wanted to kill Nadine, he could have. "I just intended to give her a few slaps. I'm telling you I didn't stab her," he continued.
"You're trying to paint a picture of me trying to kill Nadine; if I wanted to kill her I'd kill her. I didn't even want to inflict that pain on her with my hands," he told gardaí.
When asked why he had inflicted "so much pain" on a small girl like Nadine, he said he was in a rage and a part of him thought she was down the town with another man. "I just went too hard with my hands, that's it," he said.
Gardaí suggested to the accused that he was an angry person and he denied this, adding that he was a "loving person".
Asked how lifeless Nadine was when he left, he said she "wasn't near gone or anything. I didn't think she was critical."
He later said he had part of a wire from a charger wrapped around his hand and had hit Nadine with it. "It was long and getting in the way when I was hitting her, I stood on it and broke it and wrapped the rest of it around my hand," he remarked.
The detectives told him that paramedics believed it was the worst assault they had ever seen. "Don't think I'm sitting here thinking I'm going to walk out scot-free. If I was sober I probably wouldn't have done it, it was the drinks and drugs," he said.
Every time himself and Nadine saw each other they were having sex, he said, but they were not yet "official or exclusive".
When asked by detectives how his hands were not "badly damaged", Mr Murtagh said he had boxed for years and his knuckles were conditioned. "I can't believe I did that," he concluded.
At the outset of the trial, defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC made a number of admissions of fact to the court on behalf of his client. These included that the accused accepted that he had unlawfully killed Ms Lott and he "alone inflicted the injuries she suffered". The issue to be decided by the jury, Mr Grehan said, will be his intent and in the "broader sense his mental state at the time".
The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Michael MacGrath and a jury of seven men and five women.