herald

Friday 19 October 2018

Man found guilty of manslaughter over taxi driver stab death

Victim Martin Mulligan. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson
Victim Martin Mulligan. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

A man who admitted stabbing a taxi driver to death following an alleged row over illegal dumping has been found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

A jury of nine men and three women spent five hours and 29 minutes considering their verdict in the trial of Joseph Hillen (24), of Glendesha Road, Forkhill, Co Armagh.

Hillen had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Martin Mulligan (53) at Carnmore, Balriggan, Dundalk, Co Louth, on September 28, 2015.

From the outset of the trial he admitted the stabbing, but said the deceased pulled the knife on him.

The foreman of the jury said the decision was a majority verdict, with 10 agreeing and two disagreeing.

Ms Justice Eileen Creedon set a date of December 3 for a sentence hearing. Prosecution counsel Patrick Treacy SC said the victim's family will make a statement on that date.

Mr Mulligan's bloodied body was found near his taxi in the early morning, a few hours after his last drop-off of the night.

Gardai launched an investigation and Hillen came under suspicion because he had been chased from Dundalk by gardai hours before Mr Mulligan's death. He evaded the patrol car by speeding toward the Border.

Analysis of blood on the road near the body, and DNA found on the dead man's jumper, confirmed that Hillen was present when the stabbing happened.

A glove with Hillen's DNA was also found nearby.

When he first spoke to gardai in 2015 and then following his arrest in 2016, Hillen said he never met Mr Mulligan and did not know what happened.

Earlier this year, he gave a voluntary statement to gardai in which he admitted the stabbing, but said he did it in self-defence.

Dumping

He told gardai he was driving by land belonging to his friend in the early hours when he saw Mr Mulligan and believed he was illegally dumping rubbish.

Hillen said he confronted Mr Mulligan and a fight broke out.

He said the taxi driver pulled a long kitchen knife on him but Hillen "flipped the knife" before he "jabbed out" twice, inflicting the fatal wounds.

Hillen's defence barrister Brendan Grehan said his client's account was backed up by the pathologist.

The prosecution argued that Hillen's story was not credible, adding that he repeatedly lied to gardai in his initial statements.

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