herald

Saturday 25 November 2017

Killer allowed to finish his bus driving course before being sentenced

Victim Cathal Sweeney
Victim Cathal Sweeney

A man has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of a former rugby club captain, but will not be sentenced until he has completed a bus driving course.

Prosecution barrister Paddy McCarthy told the Central Criminal Court yesterday that the State accepted the plea.

Gary Walsh (34), of Ravens- dale Park, Kimmage, had been charged with the murder of Cathal Sweeney on February 8, 2014.

At a brief hearing he pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.

Mr Sweeney died following a row at a flat at Ashdale Gardens, Terenure.

Brendan Grehan, counsel for Walsh, said his client had spent 22 months in custody but was currently on bail and had complied with all bail conditions.

He asked for sentencing to be adjourned to allow Walsh to complete a bus driving course.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy ordered a probation report and adjourned sentencing to July 3, when the victim's family will make a statement to the court. He remanded Walsh on bail.

Walsh had been on trial on two previous occasions in relation to Mr Sweeney's death.

The court heard that the former rugby captain died of blunt force trauma after the assault.

The trial was told that both the accused and deceased had alcohol problems and had met for the first time that morning in the flat of a mutual friend, who described himself in court as an alcoholic.

That man, Colm Campbell, had told the accused that the deceased had sexually assaulted a man.

The court heard that the complainant had not pursued the allegation with the authorities and had been friendly with Mr Sweeney at the time of his death.

Fainted

The taxi driver who had brought Mr Sweeney to the flat that morning said the deceased was on a crutch, was shaky, had a grazed face and was very slow at getting in and out of the car.

Mr Sweeney had asked the driver to go to an ATM and a shop for him and to help him into the flat, saying he had fainted at a bus stop the previous day.

Walsh told gardai that they had been getting along well until a row had erupted, with Mr Campbell mentioning the alleged sexual assault and Mr Sweeney denying it.

"He kept denying it and it just kicked off," Walsh said. "Cathal said he didn't do it so I hit him a few times."

He said there was a lot of blood and he told Mr Sweeney to go and clean himself up. He went to check on him and found him slumped over. He immediately called an ambulance.

Mr Campbell had told gardai that he had heard Walsh demand €20,000 from Mr Sweeney, who had recently received an inheritance.

"Money had nothing to do with it," Walsh said.

The pathologist gave his cause of death as "blunt force trauma to the head and face, with profuse haemorrhage on a background of coronary artery atheroma, an enlarged heart and warfarin therapy".

He accepted that the six or seven punches Walsh had admitted giving could have accounted for all the injuries.

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