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Monday 18 December 2017

Nash 'confessed to double murders', ex-garda tells jury

Mark Nash
Mark Nash
Sylvia Shields

A jury has heard that a man on trial for a 1997 double murder gave a statement to gardai where he admitted stabbing two women after breaking in to a house in Grangegorman.

Detective Garda Gerard Dillon, now retired but who was attached to Mill Street Garda Station in Galway on the evening of August 16, 1997, yesterday read a written statement given by the accused Mark Nash in Galway on August 17, 1997, in which he wished to volunteer information in relation to a double murder he "committed in Dublin five months ago".

Mark Nash, who had last addresses at Prussia Street and Clonliffe Road in Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the double murder of Sylvia Shields (59) and Mary Callanan (61), who lived in sheltered accommodation in a house attached to St Brendan's Psychiatric Hospital in Grangegorman, Dublin 7 between March 6 and March 7, 1997.

In court, Mr Dillon read: "I now wish to volunteer information in relation to a double murder I committed in Dublin five months ago, I was coming from the GPO to Stoneybatter, I had been at a fund-raising event for charity held in the GPO."

The court heard Mr Nash said he left the GPO around 10.30pm and walked along the quays where he had a few drinks in the Ormond Centre.

At 11.30pm he said he took a wrong turn and ended up at Orchard View where he came to a two-storey house.

"I cannot explain my mind at time, but everything seemed to turn black, I lost control and decided to break into a house, I went in a side entrance to the back of house," read Mr Dillon.

The court heard how Nash said he broke the bottom right-hand frame of a window at Orchard View to get into the house and put a spare pair of socks on his hands. The jury heard how Mark Nash said he picked up a knife before he went upstairs.

The court heard how in the first room, there was a "large lady" in her "mid 50s" asleep and Mark Nash said he stabbed her in the chest.

"I don't know how many times, it was a frenzy attack, I cut her throat, I think just once," read Mr Dillon.

Upon going into the second bedroom, Mr Dillon read how Mark Nash said he saw a lady of a "slim build" and he stabbed her in the chest. "I don't know how many times, she fell forward, I may have cut her throat, I cant remember," read Mr Dillon.

self-control

In the third bedroom, there was a woman asleep in a single bed. Mr Dillon read that Mark Nash said he regained his self-control and left.

The court heard how a couple of days later he read about the murders but told the guards on August 17, 1997, "he didn't discuss with anyone".

Mr Brendan Grehan SC, acting for the State, asked Mr Dillon if there was any prompting at the time of the statement, to which Mr Dillon replied, "it was a free-flowing statement".

Concerning the formal language of the statement, Mr Hartnett suggested to Mr Dillon that "prompts were made" on the day in question, to which Mr Dillon replied: "I don't agree."

The case continues.

hnews@herald.ie

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