Court hears eight blows to the head left man dead with fractured skull

Court hears eight blows to the head left man dead with fractured skull

Eight blows to the head left a 64-year-old man dead with a fractured skull, State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy told a murder trial yesterday.

Prof Cassidy was giving evidence at the trial of three men accused of murdering Thomas Dooley at his home in Sister Senan Court, Edenderry, Co Offaly on February 12, 2014.

Matthew Cummins (22) of Churchview Heights, Edenderry, Co Offaly, Sean Davy (21) of Clonmullen Drive, Edenderry, Co Offaly and James Davy (25) of Thornhill Meadows, Celbridge, Co Kildare have all pleaded not guilty.

Prof Cassidy said she examined Mr Dooley's body on February 17, five days after the prosecution alleges he was murdered.

She told prosecuting counsel Patrick Treacy SC that he was slumped in a chair at his home with obvious wounds to his face and head. Scorch marks on the armchair and the dead man's clothes showed that somebody had tried to set him on fire

She said his body had become "floppy" suggesting that he had been dead for at least 24 hours.

When she examined him at Tullamore Hospital she found eight injuries to his head and face that suggested he had been struck with a blunt object.

Some of those blows had caused fractures to the skull and led to internal brain injuries.

She concluded that he died from "instrumental blunt force trauma to his head". A further two blows to the body had fractured three of his ribs, making it difficult to breathe and contributing to his death.

Mr Treacy then showed the pathologist a baseball bat that the prosecution alleges was used to kill Mr Dooley.

She said: "That is consistent with the instrument that caused those injuries."

Under cross examination by Caroline Biggs SC, representing Matthew Cummins, Prof Cassidy said that the overall pattern suggests that all the injuries to the head were caused by the same implement.

Therefore, she said they were "most likely to have been caused by one person." However, she added that it is not possible to say for definite whether one or more people carried out the attack. She said that the injuries were also consistent with an account given by Mr Cummins to gardai of how Mr Dooley died. 

The blows to the body that broke his ribs could not have been caused while he was sitting in the armchair.

She said this is consistent with Mr Cummins' statement that Mr Dooley rose from his chair after the first blow to the head but was struck on the body and fell back down before being struck on the head several times.

The trial continues before Justice Margaret Heneghan Heneghan at the Central Criminal Court.