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Cheers in court as the man who killed best pal is jailed for life

A packed courtroom broke into applause and cheering as a killer was jailed for life for fatally stabbing one of his best friends through the heart after a row over prank phone calls.

Unemployed Martin Toland (34), of Walkinstown Park, stood and shook his head as the Central Criminal Court jury returned their majority 10-2 verdict, following six and a half hours deliberations over two days.

He had denied murdering Alan Nolan (28), at his apartment in Cedarbrook Walk, Ballyfermot in the early hours of September 8, 2007 and said that he was acting in self-defence.



Lies

Mr Nolan received five stab wounds, including the fatal wound that penetrated his heart to a depth of 5cm, and another wound that went clean through his shoulder.

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Nolan's uncle, Gay Nolan, said justice had been done "he got everything he deserved" he said of the accused "that's what he gets for telling lies".

The jury also found Toland guilty on a second count of recklessly or intentionally causing serious harm to James Carroll (30), on the same date.

Mr Carroll narrowly survived after Toland stabbed him in the heart and stomach; he went on to give evidence and was the main witness in the trial.

The three men had spent the night in question drinking, taking Ecstasy and playing PlayStation games and poker for money.

In the early hours of the morning, a row broke out between Toland and his friend, Mr Nolan, who accused Toland's sister of being responsible for a series of prank calls he had been receiving.

Toland told gardai that Mr Nolan had pulled a knife on him and advanced towards him in an upstairs bedroom, as they had tried to settle their differences.

He said Mr Carroll then joined Mr Nolan and the two men came towards him, as he backed away, jabbing the knife in front of him and pleading with the men to let him leave the house.

But Mr Carroll gave a different account of the events. He told the jury that Mr Nolan had told the accused to get out of the house following the row.

He said Toland began retreating, holding the knife in front of him at all times, and as he was backing out the front door, Mr Nolan shouted "get that scumbag out".

Mr Carroll said that he could not remember what Mr Nolan said after that, but it sent Toland into "a fit of rage" and he "barged" through him, stabbing him in the process, in an effort to get to Alan.

The victim's father, Anthony Nolan, said that his family owed their "lives' gratitude" to Mr Carroll.

"We owe everything to James Carroll," he said. "He was meant to live and tell what really happened."



Relieved

With tears in his eyes, Mr Nolan said that justice had been done for his son and his family.

"We knew he'd murdered our son all along," he said. "I'm relieved to stand here and see justice being done for Alan."

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy handed down the mandatory life sentence.

He adjourned sentencing for the second charge until March 22, when he said the court would hear victim impact statements from both Mr Nolan's family and from Mr Carroll.

hnews@herald.ie

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