Friday 21 October 2016

Prosecution rejects manslaughter plea in rugby captain killing

The coffin of Cathal Sweeney carried by pall barers
The coffin of Cathal Sweeney carried by pall barers
Cathal Sweeney - front row to the far left

The trial of a Dublin man accused of murdering a former captain of a Dublin rugby club following a row has opened at the Central Criminal Court.

Gary Walsh (32), with an address at Ravensdale Park, Kimmage, Dublin 15, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Cathal Sweeney in Terenure in February 2014.

However, yesterday Mr Walsh pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Sweeney. This plea was not accepted by the State.

Opening the prosecution case, Mr Patrick McCarthy SC told the court "this was a case of murder" where there was going to be an issue of intoxication and drink involved.

The court heard that the events occurred at a flat at Ashdale Gardens in Terenure on February 8, 2014, when at 17.30 that day a paramedic car was sent to assist the deceased Cathal Sweeney who had "facial trauma with active bleeding".

Cathal Sweeney.jpg
Cathal Sweeney in his rugby playing days

"He was unresponsive to CPR and had no pulse," said Mr McCarthy.

The barrister told the jury they will hear there were two other men in the flat at the time - Colm Campbell, an important witness in the case, and the accused Gary Walsh.

In his opening speech Mr McCarthy said the court will hear that when paramedics arrived at the scene they were informed that Mr Sweeney was assaulted outside the flat. However, when gardai arrived Mr Campbell was not happy with that version of events and indicated Mr Walsh had assaulted Mr Sweeney.

"Gardai noted blood in the sitting room and bedroom, as well as noting that both men were intoxicated at the time.

"Mr Campbell indicated at this stage that Gary Walsh had assaulted Mr Sweeney.

"Gary Walsh was wearing heavily blood-stained tracksuit bottoms and he had stayed in the flat the previous night on Friday, February 7," said counsel.

The jury yesterday heard that the deceased had arrived at the flat on the Saturday afternoon to watch the Ireland-Wales rugby match.

Mr McCarthy told the court a row developed, with Mr Walsh assaulting the deceased.

Mr McCarthy said there was an allegation that a sexual assault had been committed by Cathal Sweeney on a person other than the accused, sometime prior to the events of February 8, 2014.

The court heard that the allegation of sexual assault was made in 2011, but was subsequently withdrawn.

Mr McCarthy then told the court that the accused admitted attacking Mr Sweeney in his statement to gardai.

"Mr Walsh says this attack took place in the sitting room. There was blood in the sitting room and Mr Walsh denied in his statement that anything took place in the bedroom.

"However when gardai arrived they found blood in the bedroom and on the bed," said counsel.


The court heard that Gary Walsh apparently did carry out CPR on the deceased and Mr Walsh accepted Mr Campbell had no part to play in the assault of Mr Sweeney.

"You will have to decide if the accused is guilty of murder or accept the plea he has given to you of manslaughter," said the barrister.

The court heard the deceased was brought to the emergency department of St James's Hospital shortly after 6pm on February 8, 2014, but there was no response to further resuscitation and was pronounced dead at 6.32pm.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy told the jury that the trial is expected to take approximately six days but to set aside a fortnight for the case.

The trial continues.

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