Jury to begin deliberating on Wednesday in  Nadine Lott murder trial

Mr Justice Michael MacGrath concluded his charge to the jurors on Tuesday, telling them they must act clinically, dispassionately and without sympathy towards both the deceased and the accused
Jury to begin deliberating on Wednesday in  Nadine Lott murder trial

The jury has heard Nadine Lott suffered 'severe blunt force trauma' and stab injuries at the hands of her former partner 'in a sustained and violent attack' in her Arklow home. File picture

A jury will begin deliberating on Wednesday in the trial of a man accused of murdering his former partner Nadine Lott by inflicting "severe blunt force trauma" injuries to her in a "sustained attack" in her Arklow home.

Mr Justice Michael MacGrath concluded his charge to the jurors on Tuesday, telling them  they must act clinically, dispassionately and without sympathy towards both the deceased and the accused.

Daniel Murtagh, 34, of Melrose Grove, Bawnogue, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of his 30-year-old ex-partner Ms Lott at her apartment in St Mary's Court, Arklow, Co Wicklow, on December 17, 2019.

The jury has heard Ms Lott suffered "severe blunt force trauma" and stab injuries at the hands of her former partner "in a sustained and violent attack" in her Arklow home. They have heard evidence that the injuries to Ms Lott were so serious that she never regained consciousness and died three days later in St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin.

An intensive care nurse at the hospital gave evidence that Ms Lott was "completely unrecognisable" and that she had never seen anybody so badly injured. 

A paramedic who attended to Ms Lott at her home told the jury the call would "haunt" him for the rest of his career and was one of the most "horrendous scenes" he had ever walked in on. The garda who telephoned ambulance control informed them Ms Lott had been "beaten to a pulp".

Judge's charge

In his charge on Tuesday, Mr Justice MacGrath asked the jurors to act clinically, dispassionately and without sympathy towards the deceased, her family, the accused or his family.

The judge said the jurors must confine their deliberations to the evidence which had been presented to them in the courtroom and they could not speculate.

Referring to the presumption of innocence, Mr Justice MacGrath said the fact Mr Murtagh had pleaded guilty to manslaughter did not alter his presumption of innocence, which he enjoyed in respect of the charge of murder. 

"The burden lies on the prosecution to prove every element of the offence," he added.

He said the date on the indictment was the date Ms Lott had died despite the assault taking place three days previously, into the early hours of December 14. "That is why it is constructed in the way it is. Murder is not an offence until someone dies," he explained.

Murder, he said, was a crime of specific intent, which occurs when one person unlawfully kills another, intending that person to be killed or caused serious injury.

The judge said the accused had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter, which meant Mr Murtagh accepted he had killed Ms Lott by his acts and that the killing was unlawful. 

However, he said it also meant Mr Murtagh did not accept he had the necessary mental element when he did the acts to Nadine Lott.

Accused's intention

He asked the jurors to focus on the accused's intention that night. If the jury decided the accused did not intend to kill Ms Lott, they must consider whether he intended to seriously injure her, he said. 

"If you come to the conclusion that the evidence establishes that he did intend to seriously injure her but not kill her that is still murder as murder is a crime of specific intent," he explained.

Completing his charge to the jury, Mr Justice MacGrath said their focus should be on how the accused's interviews with gardaí assisted them as to what the accused's intention was.

Referring to the accused's defence of intoxication, the judge said it was a defence for a crime of specific intent such as murder and can reduce the offence of murder to manslaughter.

"You must decide in the context of intoxication as to whether the prosecution satisfied you beyond a reasonable doubt that despite his intoxication he had formed the intent to kill or cause serious injury to Nadine Lott," he said.

Mr Murtagh told gardaí in his interviews the incident "would never have happened but for the drink and drugs" he consumed that night.

The judge said if the jury were satisfied the prosecution had discharged the burden of proof to kill or cause serious injury, they can find Mr Murtagh guilty of murder. 

However, if they are not satisfied of the accused's requisite intention, they must acquit him of murder and return a verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

After the judge finished his charge, defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC asked the court to permit that a "daddy naggin" bottle of Captain Morgan rum be shown to the jury. The barrister said the bottle had been wrongly attributed as containing 200ml, whereas "a daddy naggin" is "somewhat larger" than a naggin at 350ml. He said the bottle of rum had been photographed on the sofa in the deceased's sitting room.

The jury has heard Mr Murtagh told gardaí in interview that, in the hours before the killing, he had smoked a joint, taken two pills and drank Captain Morgan rum.

Jury must be unanimous

The jurors will be sent out to commence their deliberations at 10.30am on Wednesday morning. They can return two verdicts in relation to the murder charge against Mr Murtagh, namely; guilty of murder or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. They must be unanimous in their decision.

In his closing speech, prosecution counsel John O'Kelly SC argued Mr Murtagh had inflicted "the most appalling and dreadful blunt trauma injuries" to the beauty therapist's face, which separated the flesh from the underlying structures. 

He insisted that this was a case of murder and "nothing short of murder" and there was no defence of intoxication in the case. "There is the clearest intent, just look at what the accused didn't do and what he never tried to do, he never raised a hand to get Nadine any kind of help," he stressed.

However, defence counsel Mr Grehan, for Mr Murtagh, submitted in his closing address that his client's intent was the "main battleground" in the case and asked the jury to consider his level of intoxication that night. Mr Murtagh maintained the "bloodbath" would never have happened "but for the drink and drugs" he had consumed that night, the lawyer said.

At the outset of the trial, Mr Grehan made a number of admissions of fact to the court on behalf of his client. These included that the accused accepted 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".

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