Jury finds Clare man not guilty of murder following fatal stabbing in Kilkee

Aoife Nic Ardghai

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Aoife Nic Ardghai

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Jury finds Clare man not guilty of murder following fatal stabbing in Kilkee

The jury was told Karl augh died of a single stab wound

A CLARE man who admitted stabbing another male in the back during a row has been acquitted of murder but convicted of manslaughter.

Robbie Walsh, 23, of Island View, Kilrush, County Clare, had pleaded not guilty, at the Central Criminal Court, to murdering 25-year-old Karl “Gobbo” Haugh at Marian Estate, Kilkee in the early hours of August 6, 2017.

The jury took over three hours to return a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

Ms Justice Carmel Stewart thanked the jurors for their time and attendance and excused them from further civic duty for five years.

She remanded Walsh in custody and ordered a report from the Probation Service pending sentence hearing on March 25, next.

Earlier, the jurors had sought clarification from Ms Justice Stewart about the verdicts open to them.

Ms Justice Stewart said for a guilty verdict, the jury must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Walsh had intended to kill or cause serious harm, where no issue of self defence arose.

Reading from legal guidelines, she told the jury that a person is entitled to protect themselves from attack if using no more force than is reasonably necessary. She said this person is acting lawfully and no crime is committed even if the assailant is killed.

She said if more force is used than can be objectively considered necessary, then the act and any killing is unlawful. The judge said in this case the person's intention has to be tested subjectively.

She told the jury that if the intention was primarily self defence, the killing would be manslaughter only.

During the trial, the jury heard Mr Haugh died of a single stab wound, which punctured his lung and led to massive bleeding.

There was evidence that Mr Haugh had been a fit, healthy man prior to the incident.

The jury heard and viewed excerpts of Walsh's garda interviews during the trial. In one interview, Walsh said: “I deserve to spend the rest of my life in prison, that man is going into a hole.”

When asked what led to the event, Walsh told gardaí that his cousin, Clinton Walsh, had gone Mr Haugh’s house earlier that night to buy cocaine. He said instead Mr Haugh had attacked his cousin. Walsh said his “only intention” for later going up to the Marian Estate was to “go up and break a few windows in Karl’s car”.

Describing the fatal fight, he said Mr Haugh “was dragging and pulling me, he’s known for knocking people out with one punch.”

He told gardaí that after he swung the knife, he believed Mr Haugh to be okay because “he got back up”. He also said in interview, which was played to the jury, that he had not brought the knife with him.

When asked why he made the decision to hand himself in, Walsh explained that he “looked on Facebook this morning and saw a 25-year-old man was stabbed in Kilkee and he died.”

He told gardaí: “I’d no intention of killing anyone or doing anything like that. My only intention was to smash a few windows. I might be a lot of things but I’m not a murderer.”

He claimed he and his cousins had been “boxed in” in Marian Estate and that they “had no choice but to stand and fight”.

When asked by gardaí how he felt about what happened, Walsh replied: “Shit because there’s a man’s mass on today.”

Sam Lucey told Patrick Gageby SC, prosecuting, that he and Mr Haugh had taken a golf club each to confront Walsh and his two cousins, following earlier heated phone conversations.

Mr Lucey, the deceased's cousin, said he also took a knife from his kitchen after seeing Robbie, Clinton and Mitchell Walsh running around his estate. He told the court he saw one of them with a bar.

He said he got separated from Mr Haugh when they encountered the Walshs.

He told Mr Gageby the fight had lasted “only a couple of minutes” when he heard another male shouting that Mr Haugh had been stabbed.

The witness said he went to Mr Haugh and saw him “keeled over, kind of crouched down, holding his back”.

He told the jury he called emergency services while he brought the injured man back to his home, with another friend who had arrived on the scene.

Mr Lucey said he went with Mr Haugh by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick, but was told to wait while his cousin was brought to the emergency department. He said he didn't see Mr Haugh after that.

Mr Lucey described brief “pushing and shoving” between Mr Haugh and Clinton Walsh, in an earlier incident that night. The witness said this was because of a phone call exchange between Mr Haugh and the Walshs.

Mr Lucey confirmed that he had video recorded these phone conversations, which were played to the jury.

He agreed under cross-examination with Brendan Grehan SC, defending, that “it wasn't Robbie Walsh who brought the knife to the scene”.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis gave evidence that Mr Haugh died from a single stab wound. His lung was punctured and he suffered massive bleeding. 

Mr Haugh's mother, Bridget Haugh, told the jury she went to Limerick University Hospital after receiving news her son had been hurt. She said when she spoke with Mr Haugh, he kept telling her he was going to be ok.

She said she was on the road to hospital in Cork after Mr Haugh was due for a transfer there, but got a phone call from Limerick University Hospital to say his condition had deteriorated. She said when she got back to Limerick, she learned he had died.

The jury also heard evidence of text messages sent from Robbie Walsh’s phone in the aftermath of the incident. 

Garda Robert Wilson told Michael Hourigan BL, prosecuting, that Walsh sent a text message about 7am that morning to say the deceased had been stabbed “by me”. 

In another text, Walsh told the same person: “10 of them jumped one of the boys so we all went back together. He got it in his lung with his own knife”.