Limerick men appeal murder convictions following fatal stabbing at house party

Alison O'Riordan

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Alison O'Riordan

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Limerick men appeal murder convictions following fatal stabbing at house party

Ger Hogan (left) and Dylan Hayes (right) have moved to appeal their convictions

TWO Limerick men have brought appeals against their convictions for murdering another man in during a house party in Pallasgreen more than five years ago.

Dylan Hayes, 25, with a last address at The Crescent, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle and Gerard Hogan, 37, with a last address at Raheen Square, Ballinacurra Weston were both found guilty, in May 2017, of the murder of Shane Murphy at The Grove, Pallasgreen on April 30, 2015.

Mr Murphy died from a stab wound to the heart with multiple penetrating injuries to the trunk and upper arms also contributing to his death. 

An appeal against the convictions was heard remotely at the Court of Appeal this Thursday. 

The trial heard that Hayes had confronted Mr Murphy at the house partyasking him: “Did you call me a junkie?” Hayes believed that Mr Murphy had been talking about him, saying that he was doing heroin, or “goofing off”, at the house in Pallasgreen earlier the same week. 

Hayes told gardai that Mr Murphy responded: “Yeah, I did. What are you going to do about it?” It was at this point, according to Hayes's statements to gardai, that he went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and came back to the sitting room where he began stabbing Mr Murphy repeatedly in the chest, stomach, arms and legs.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan said one of the stab wounds pierced Mr Murphy's heart while others had damaged both lungs and the liver. Defensive wounds to his hands suggested that he had tried to protect himself as Hayes wielded the knife.

The prosecution case in relation to Hogan was that he was involved in a joint enterprise with Hayes to murder Mr Murphy. One witness at the house said she saw Hogan attack and stab Mr Murphy with Hayes. She also said that Hogan and Hayes were saying "get him, get him" as they "egged" each other on.

Delivering his charge, Mr Justice McCarthy told the jury that they could find the accused men guilty of murder if the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that they had formed a joint intention to kill or cause serious injury to Mr Murphy

Opening the appeal barrister Mark Nicholas SC, representing Mr Hayes, submitted that the judge's charge on provocation was deficient as the jury was not properly instructed.

There was no explanation by the judge to the jurors of the requirement to assess the accused's actions subjectively as well as in a clear and usable form, he concluded. 

Mr Hogan has moved to appeal his conviction on a number of grounds. 

His barrister, Michael Bowman SC, said the prosecution had relied upon both words spoken and acts carried out by Hogan including attacking the deceased with a screwdriver. It was open to the jury to conclude that Hogan did not stab the deceased as the pathologist testified that the injuries to Mr Murphy were caused by a knife and not a screwdriver, he said.

If the jury so concluded then they needed to be directed specifically as to whether they could rely on words which were attributed to Hogan as encouragement to the co-accused, he said, and also whether the words amounted to a communication of an intent to kill or cause serious harm. 

Furthermore, Mr Bowman submitted that the trial judge had also refused a defence requisition to charge the jury in relation to the ability of a party to withdraw from a common design or joint enterprise. 

Orla Crowe SC, for the DPP, said four persons present in the house had witnessed the murder and each of them had implicated both appellants in the attack on Mr Murphy.

One of these witnesses, she said, had given very clear evidence to the trial of a physical and verbal engagement by both defendants on the deceased and pointed out that this went to the common design element of the offence.

Ms Crowe added that "science" had not removed Hogan from the physical attack on Mr Murphy. 

Regarding the charge of provocation, the barrister said the trial judge had given a very clear outline to the jury of the defence of provocation and made it entirely clear that the test was subjective.

The jurors could not have been under any misconception in relation to the law, she submitted, and this ground of appeal should fail. 

Ms Crowe explained that Mr Bowman had suggested that his client had either not fully participated in the attack or withdrawn from it but she said this had not been borne out by the witnesses who heard and saw what was happening in the room at the time.

She emphasised that this was a "classic case" of joint enterprise and common design and there was no evidence in the case that Hogan had withdrawn from the joint enterprise.

The appeals for each man should be refused as the evidence bore out the verdicts returned by the jury, she concluded. 

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy and Ms Justice Una Ni Raifeartaigh, said the court would reserve its judgement.

"One of the appellants had put forward multiple grounds of appeal so that will impact the timetable for the issuing of a judgment," added Mr Justice Birmingham.