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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Attacker who stabbed dad-of-one three times guilty of manslaughter

Gerard Burnett, who was stabbed to death in Mulhuddart
Gerard Burnett, who was stabbed to death in Mulhuddart

A man who admitted stabbing a dad-of-one three times has been cleared of murder but found guilty of his manslaughter.

The prosecution's case was that Andrew Gibney (25) was part of a joint enterprise to murder Gerard Burnett (28), and he was one of five men who went to his house on the night.

The defence argued that, if the evidence pointed to a reas- onable possibility that Gibney intended to cause some harm to Mr Burnett short of serious harm, the appropriate verdict was manslaughter.

Gibney told gardai that he stabbed Mr Burnett in the side three times with a knife.

The accused went to a garda station of his own free will a week after the killing and told officers: "I was involved in the incident. The chap is dead now and I need to give him peace."

State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy gave evidence during the Central Criminal Court trial that Mr Burnett suffered 30 knife injuries, the majority being stab wounds.

She testified that the fatal injuries were six stab wounds on the right side of his chest, all of which penetrated deeply, causing injuries to his right lung, heart and liver.

Deliberated

Gibney, of Dromheath Avenue, Mulhuddart, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Burnett at Castlecurragh Vale, Mulhuddart, on August 21, 2012.

The jury of five men and seven women deliberated for seven hours and six minutes over three days before delivering its verdict yesterday.

Mr Justice Paul Butler thanked the jurors for their attention in the matter and exempted them from jury service for 10 years.

The court adjourned sentencing until December 13, and Mr Justice Butler remanded Gibney in custody until that date.

Members of Gibney's family wept when the verdict was announced by the court registrar.

The five-day trial heard that Gibney told gardai in interviews that Mr Burnett had stabbed him in the shoulder with a screwdriver four years previously, but the two had made amends.

The judge said in his charge to the jury that the principle of joint enterprise was central to the case.

He said that, where two or more persons embarked on a joint enterprise, all parties to that agreement were criminally liable.

Consequences

However, where one party went beyond what had been tacitly agreed, the other was not liable for the consequences of this act.

This was the second time that Gibney had gone on trial for Mr Burnett's murder.

He was originally convicted of the 28-year-old's murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in January 2014.

That conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal last November and a retrial was ordered.

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