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Wednesday 18 July 2018

'It's only an extra few years', says teen found guilty of pal's murder

Graham McEvoy admitted killing his best friend and pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but a jury decided that it was murder
Graham McEvoy admitted killing his best friend and pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but a jury decided that it was murder

A Dublin teenager who admitted stabbing his best friend to death was yesterday found guilty of his murder.

Graham McEvoy (19), of Captain's Road, Crumlin, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

However, after a week-long trial, the Central Criminal Court jury recorded a majority 11 to one verdict that he murdered Paul 'Paulie' Curran (23), at Seagull House, Crumlin Road, Dublin, on July 16, 2016.

It took the jury more than eight hours to reach its verdict, which came shortly before 3pm.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy then thanked them and exempted them from jury service for 10 years.

Stabbed

Prosecuting counsel Pieter LeVert asked for time for a statement to be prepared by the victim's family, and as a result, Mr Justice McCarthy adjourned sentencing until today.

Having been found guilty of murder, McEvoy will receive a mandatory life sentence.

Following the verdict, members of his family embraced him and broke down in tears.

As he was led away, he told them: "Don't worry, it's only an extra few years."

The trial heard from Deputy State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan that Mr Curran was stabbed at least six times.

She said the fatal wound was made under Mr Curran's left armpit and went through the upper lobe of the left lung. At a depth of nine or 10 centimetres, it caused significant bleeding and collapse of the left lung, leading to respiratory collapse and death.

Blood loss through other wounds to the backs of his legs contributed to his death, added Dr Mulligan, and an incised wound to his left forearm was most likely a defensive injury.

The injuries to his legs appeared to travel in an upward direction. This suggested that Mr Curran was at a higher level, such as on stairs, when those wounds were inflicted, Dr Mulligan told the court.

During garda interviews, McEvoy said he had met Mr Curran at Seagull House to sell him half an ounce of cocaine, but when he asked for his money, Mr Curran pulled a knife and tried to slash him.

In the scuffle that followed, the two men slipped to the floor, and McEvoy said he took the knife from Mr Curran and stabbed him.

Defence barrister Barry White argued that McEvoy was acting in self-defence but had used excessive force and should therefore be convicted of manslaughter and not murder.

The prosecution said the three knife wounds to the backs of Mr Curran's legs - which the pathologist said went in an upward direction - showed that the deceased was trying to get away rather than scuffling on the ground.

There was also the evidence of a teenage girl, who said McEvoy called her earlier that day looking for Mr Curran and said something about "nearly getting a stripe" on his face and that he "got it over Paulie".

Responsibility

In his charge to the jury, Mr Justice McCarthy explained that McEvoy's plea to the lesser charge meant that he accepted responsibility for the killing but that at the time did not intend to kill or cause serious injury.

The judge said any person is entitled to defend themselves in a way that is proportionate with the threat, but in circumstances in which the level of force used is not reasonable, the person might still not be guilty of murder.

He said the prosecution would still have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused knew that the force used was excessive.

If the prosecution failed to prove this, then the accused should be found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter, he added.

However, if the jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he knew at the time that the force he was using was excessive, he said it should find him guilty of murder.

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