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Court hears Cork Prison inmate stabbed in row over changing TV channel

CourtsBy Sunday World
Brian Veale
Brian Veale

A murder accused is alleged to have stabbed a fellow inmate in the kitchen of Cork Prison after an argument over switching television channels, prosecutors have told a trial jury.

On Monday at the Central Criminal Court, Brian Veale (31) of Dominic Street, Cork pleaded not guilty to murdering Graham Johnson at Cork Prison, Rathmore Road in Cork City on May 16, 2015.

Opening the prosecution case to a jury this morning, Mr Tim O'Leary SC told the court that both men were inmates at Cork Prison and they knew each other.

Counsel told the jury they would hear that the men were working in the kitchen of Cork Prison when there was “some type of verbal altercation” at around 3pm on May 16.

The court heard that it was a “relatively large kitchen” as it was feeding the population of Cork Prison.

Mr O'Leary said it would be alleged that an altercation arose between the two men “over a switching of a television channel” in the kitchen where the inmates were preparing food.

“An altercation appeared to have occurred between the two men in relation to switching channels between a racing channel and Sky Sports News,” he said.

Counsel told the jury they will also hear that the altercation took place and then finished but sometime after 5pm that same day Mr Veale “came across a part of the kitchen with a knife” and stabbed the deceased in the chest area.

He said the jury would hear from State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy about “the nature of the damage” that was done to the deceased and how Mr Johnson died from a single stab wound to the front of the chest.

The barrister told the jury that Dr Cassidy would say that the stab “perforated the heart” as well “as slicing through the walls of the aorta and oesophagus.”

The court heard that the tract wound “was downwards into the body” and consistent "with a single downward thrust through the chest wall."

“Dr Cassidy said it would require a considerable degree of force to penetrate the sternum and a large sturdy knife with a sharp tip could penetrate the bone with ease,” said Mr O’Leary.

Counsel said the jury would hear that Mr Johnson's death occurred quickly and that some people in the kitchen did not see exactly what had happened.

“You will hear Mr Johnson falls down in the kitchen area after they (both men) are seen together. You will hear the relative calm of Mr Veale after the event. You will hear other evidence in relation to the kitchen staff,” he said.

The court heard that inmates who worked in the kitchen had access to knives for cutting up vegetables. Also kitchen staff are given white tunics to wear.

“They (kitchen staff) would have white tops and trousers and you will hear that there was blood found on Mr Veale’s top and bottom. You will hear from forensics that this blood matched Mr Johnson’s blood,” said counsel.

There will be witnesses who will give evidence of Mr Veale’s demeanour from before and after the events, the court heard.

“You have to prove that the accused intended to kill or cause serious harm to Mr Johnson. He was killed by a stab wound to the chest,” he said.

In conclusion, Mr O'Leary told the court that the prosecution's case was that it was Mr Veale who walked across the kitchen to Mr Johnson “two hours later” and “plunges” the knife into him.

“After hearing the evidence you should have no doubt that Mr Veale is guilty as accused of the crime of murder,” he said.
 
The trial continues before Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy and a jury of seven men and five women. It is expected to last five days.