Former soldier given life in jail for stabbing man to death after chip shop row
A former British army soldier has been jailed for life after being found guilty of murdering a man who was stabbed to death outside a chip shop.
Donal Colgan (66), formerly of Killarney Court, Killarney Street, Dublin 1, had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of 44-year-old Dav- id Sheridan, who died after being stabbed outside Luigi's takeaway on the city's North Strand Road three years ago.
However, a jury unanimously found him guilty of murder following five days of evidence and six hours and 44 minutes of deliberation.
"We're happy with the verdict but it doesn't bring David back," Mr Sheridan's family said in a statement.
"He will be missed terribly, and we all love him."
In a statement read to the court by Gda Ronan Hobbs, Mr Sheridan's son Jake Fay said his dad was "not perfect but he did his best" and did not deserve to die in the way he did.
He said he would never forgive his father's murderer.
Colgan's defence had argued that he lost all self-control after Mr Sheridan struck him on the head with a bag of cans.
The prosecution said Colgan attacked the deceased out of anger following a row.
The defendant, who was discharged from the British Army due to injuries suffered in an explosion in Libya, had spent the Sunday evening of August 17, 2014 drinking in the Sunset House pub.
He went to Luigi's for a bag of chips on his way home and, while he was there, a number of young "lads" started "slagging him off".
When Mr Sheridan arrived with his friend Gary Kinlan, CCTV footage showed Colgan aggressively pointing at them.
As Colgan left the chip shop, he became involved in a scuffle with Mr Kinlan.
Colgan alleged that Mr Kinlan had punched him before Mr Sheridan emerged from the chip shop and said: "Hit him with the bottles."
Mr Kinlan had thrown a bottle at him, striking him on the forehead and knocking him to the ground. However, Mr Kinlan said Colgan had been the first to throw a punch.
After being hit by the bottle, Colgan said he was "dazed" and anger and frustration took over.
He had walked to his nearby apartment, retrieved a kitchen knife and returned to Luigi's seven minutes after the initial scuffle with Mr Kinlan.
Colgan said he had no intention of stabbing anyone and, although he was afraid, anger and frustration took over.
By the time he reached Luigi's, he had started hoping Mr Sheridan and Mr Kinlan would not be there.
Colgan alleged he was att-acked by the deceased, who had hit him on the head with a bag of cans. He added: "I just lost complete control."
This led to his defence of provocation, with Justice Tony Hunt explaining that, if a person accused of murder was provoked by the deceased to the point where he was no longer master of his own mind, then he would be guilty of manslaughter, not murder.
Judge Hunt said yesterday that it was sometimes satisfying to send a person to prison, but this was not one of those occasions.
He said Colgan had not gone out that evening with any intention of doing what he had and that, if he could turn back the clock, he would do so.
He said it was clear the dec-eased had been a "nice man" who had not deserved to die in such a "cruel" way.
Judge Hunt also called on the legislature to look at the defence of provocation, particularly in cases where an accused brings an offensive weapon "into play".
It was the second time the case had been tried, the first trial having collapsed after a gap was discovered in the CCTV footage.