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Thursday 8 December 2016

Inmate knifed fellow prisoner to death in row over TV channel

Brian Veale stabbed a fellow inmate through the heart. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts
Brian Veale stabbed a fellow inmate through the heart. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts

A prisoner grabbed a knife being used to make apple tarts in Cork Prison kitchen and stabbed a fellow inmate to death in a row over a TV sports channel.

Brian Veale (31) was convicted of the murder of Graham Johnson (41) by a Central Criminal Court jury after less than two hours of deliberations.

Veale, who had denied murder, will now face a mandatory life sentence. He will be sentenced on November 7.

It has emerged that a security review was ordered by prison authorities immediately after the fatal stabbing to determine how an inmate like Veale, who has a history of violence, could be in a prison kitchen area with access to potential weapons.

Mr Johnson, from Bandon, Co Cork, was due to be released from prison a few weeks later, having completed his sentence.

The fatal row was triggered by a dispute over a Sky Sports channel being watched on the TV in the general kitchen area.

One inmate wanted to watch horse racing while the other wanted to watch Steven Gerrard's last match for Liverpool.

Wound

Veale (31), of Dominic Street, Cork, but originally from Dungarvan, Co Waterford, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Johnson at Cork Prison, Rathmore Road in Cork City, on May 16, 2015.

A jury of seven men and five women found Veale guilty by unanimous verdict of murdering Mr Johnson, who died from a single stab wound to the chest that pierced his lungs, heart and aorta.

They had deliberated for one hour and 56 minutes.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy thanked the jury for their time and exempted them from jury service for 15 years. "Thank you for your care and attention throughout the trial. It was very apparent you concentrated hard on the evidence," she said.

Ms Justice Kennedy remanded Veale in custody until November 7, when a victim impact statement will be before the court.

The four-day trial heard Veale stabbed Mr Johnson after the argument over TV channels and the remote control.

Both men were inmates at Cork Prison and they knew each other.

Altercation

The verbal altercation between the two men took place at around 3pm on May 16. Some time after 5pm that same day, Veale came across the kitchen with a knife and stabbed the deceased in the chest area.

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy gave evidence in the trial and told the jury that Mr Johnson died from a single stab wound to the front of the chest before he could be transferred to hospital.

Mr Johnson was said by prison sources to be "a model prisoner" and someone who "wouldn't hurt a fly." He received a prison sentence in November 2011 from Cork Circuit Criminal Court for a series of thefts.

Mr Johnson was a chronic gambler whose addiction issues began when he was aged just 14 years.

He was handed a five-year prison term, with the final 12 months suspended, after he pleaded guilty to stealing €19,000 to feed his gambling habit.

Mr Johnson stole €1,620 in cash, €1,500 in gold jewellery and €1,500 in cheques from a Mallow goldsmith in April 2011. He also pleaded guilty to stealing €3,000 in cash and €12,000 from a development firm in west Cork, where he was working.

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