Limerick man found not guilty of murdering ‘annoying’ beggar in laneway

Natasha Reid

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Natasha Reid

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news@limerickleader.ie

Limerick man found not guilty of murdering 'annoying’ beggar in laneway

Desmond Coyle arriving at Limerick District Court last year

A LIMERICK man has been cleared of murder but found guilty of the manslaughter of an ‘annoying’ beggar, whom he stabbed after going to his home with a knife to ‘stop him demanding money’.

Desmond Coyle told those who restrained him after the fatal stabbing that he hoped his victim was dead and that he had deserved it.

He later told gardai that if he (the deceased) had ‘stopped f***ing annoying me, it wouldn’t have happened’.

The 60-year-old, who is originally from Garryowen but who has an address at Davis Street was on trial at the Central Criminal Court, charged with murdering Calo Carpaci at lunchtime on May 24 2017.

He had pleaded not guilty to the 58-year-old’s murder at Roche’s Row, where he had lived.

Mr Justice Michael White told the jury that there were various possible grounds on which it could find him guilty of manslaughter, rather than murder: self defence, lack of intent to kill or seriously injur the Romanian, or gross negligence.

The jury took less than four hours to reach a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.

The trial heard, which took place at the Criminal Courts of Justice heard that Coyle had spent that morning drinking in early houses in the city.

He was then captured on CCTV footage arriving on Roche’s Row and approaching Mr Carpaci’s front door and going inside for 13 seconds.

The footage next showed a scuffle between the two outside, with Mr Carpaci’s nephew and his nephew's partner then tackling the accused, before passersby stepped in and restrained him.

Neither his nephew nor his partner gave evidence but the passersby, described as good citizens by the defence, both gave evidence.

Eamon Hayes testified that Coyle had said: “I’ve stabbed him. I’m out of here.”

Eric Hackett recalled the accused saying: “I hope he’s dead. He deserves it. There’s history.”

Coyle told gardai that he’d gone there that day to ‘stop him demanding money off me’ and ‘making smart-alecky comments’.

He did not know why he had chosen that particular day and said that he didn’t remember going or bringing the knife. However, he said that he ‘must have’ brought it.

“He opened the door and came out very fast. That’s all I remember,” he said in a garda interview. “He had fallen down and was bleeding.”

He was asked why he was bleeding.

“Because the knife obviously went into him,’ he replied. “I had the knife in my hand. I don’t know if he came onto it or I put it in him.”

It was put to him that the reality was that, if he hadn’t gone there with the knife, the man would still be alive.

“I understand,” he replied. “I know the reality is that if he had stopped f***ing annoying me, it wouldn’t have happened either.”

The jury also heard from Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis, who had carried out the post-mortem exam on the deceased.

He gave the cause of his death as a single stab wound to the chest, which had penetrated and gone all the way through the heart.

The prosecutor last week urged the jury to convict Mr Coyle, who had ‘trespassed’ into Mr Carpaci’s house with the knife that killed him, before confessing: “I stabbed him in the chest.”

The defence barrister argued that he had gone there to confront him and did not have the intention for murder when he grappled with the deceased.

Mr Justice White charged the jurors, telling them that there were three possible verdicts open to them: guilty, not guilty, or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

He explained that there were various types of manslaughter.

“Manslaughter is a very wide type of offence. It can move from gross negligence at the lower end to very close to murder,” he said.

He said that one type of involuntary manslaughter was an unlawful and dangerous act that led to death, but where the accused did not intend to kill or cause serious injury.

“A more unlikely scenario is gross negligence manslaughter,” he added.

“In this particular trial, on the account given by Mr Coyle, he has made the case that his actions were not deliberate, it was possibly an accident,” he said.

The judge also said that self defence had been raised as a possible defence in the case. He explained that this could be a complete defence, resulting in an acquittal. It could also be a partial defence, resulting in a verdict of manslaughter if excessive force was used.

The jury spent just under four hours deliberating, before returning with a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.

Mr Justice White asked Anthony Sammon SC, prosecuting, if a victim impact statement was required.

“Difficulties arise in relation to the family that you've heard,” he replied. “Rather than impose any burdens on the investigating officers…”

Mr Justice White said they would ‘just leave it’ and remanded Coyle in custody for sentencing on January 21 next.