Court hears Kilkenny woman was stabbed over 'stolen blood' and 'black widow spiders'

Mairead Moran
Mairead Moran

A 29-year-old man told his cousin he stabbed a Kilkenny woman to death because she had stolen a "vial of his blood", "installed hidden cameras" and put "black widow spiders” in his house, a jury has heard.

Shane Smyth (29) with an address at McGuinness House, Evans Lane, Kilkenny is charged with murdering Mairead Moran (26) on May 8 2014 at the Market Cross Shopping Centre in Kilkenny City.

On Monday at the Central Criminal Court Mr Smyth pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Moran by reason of insanity.

The jury has been told that the facts of the case are not disputed and that two consultant psychiatrists prepared reports indicating that Mr Smyth was suffering from a form of psychosis at the time.

Yesterday prosecution counsel Mr John O’Kelly SC called Mr Kevin Dollard to give evidence and he told the court that on the morning of May 8 2014 he met the accused "purely by chance" in McDonalds restaurant in Kilkenny.

The court heard Mr Smyth told Mr Dollard that he had "microchips in his body" and was "being forced into a gang war."

Ms Ellen Cruise was then called by counsel and she told Mr O'Kelly she had known the accused since she was in her teens and she had pagan beliefs.

The court heard on the morning of May 8 2014 she bumped into Shane Smyth "by chance" and they went back to her house for a cup of tea.

Ms Cruise told the court that the accused told her "people were stealing things from him" and he appeared "agitated" which made her feel "uncomfortable."

Mr Smyth also told the witness that his tattoos "did things" and "caused problems."

The court heard he took out a bag of eight crystals that morning and gave her a "piece of crystallised lithium."

"He told me that he knew before we met that he would give this particular stone to me," she said.

Ms Cruise also told the court that the accused told her he was a "solitaire."

"He said he had demonic tendencies after that, that made me uncomfortable, I didn’t want to know so I didn’t ask, I was very uncomfortable at this stage by his demeanour," she said.

Ms Cruise said Mr Smyth told her he had a large crystal that "shouts" at him sometimes.

"He told me: ‘I had this stone for ten years’ which he had a connection with and ‘they stole it from me’ but he was going to get it back," she said.

The court heard Ms Cruise was not aware Shane Smyth had schizophrenia and she told Mr O'Kelly that if she had been her "course of action would have been particularly different" that day.

Ms Cruise then told defence counsel Mr Coleman Cody SC: "It was frightening the change, I’m not an easy person to make uncomfortable but I was uncomfortable that day.It was a very unusual experience."

The next witness was Ken O'Reilly who looked after the management of McGuinness House on Evans Lane in Kilkenny where the accused lived.

On May 8 2014 Mr O'Reilly called to Mr Smyth's house at 7.10pm and he told counsel he noticed Mr Smyth "did not look right as his eyes were unusually wide open."

"He told me he was bitten by spiders on his face. I didn’t see any marks on his face," he said.

The cousin of Mr Smyth was then called by Mr O'Kelly to give evidence and she told the court she was at home in Hazel Grove, Loughboy in Kilkenny on May 8 2014 with her partner and her son when she heard a knock on the door at 8.30pm.

The court heard her cousin Shane Smyth was at the door and he had a "wild look in his eyes and was pulling at his hair."

Ms Grogan told the court her cousin said he had done something "spastic" down the town and told her he had stabbed his ex girlfriend in her head and back.

"Shane is a paranoid schzohrenic and I didn’t know if what he was saying was true or if it was all in his head. I was in shock, he had no blood on him or anything," she said.

Mr Smyth told her his ex girlfriend Mairead Moran had stolen a vial of his blood from his house, put black widow spiders in his house which he had been bitten by and had been left paralysed.

"He said he went down to Market Cross Shopping Centre to find out why she was doing all these things to him," she told counsel.

When she asked him was Mairead Moran alright, he told her she "must be as he could still feel her presence."

Ms Grogan told the court she rang Shane's brother Neil Smyth at 9.10pm and left a voicemail to say Shane "was after going mad."

She asked Neil Smyth to ring the gardai to see if there was any truth in what Shane had told her.

"I asked him had he taken drugs that day but he said there still could be spider poison in his blood and he had been paralysed for eight hours. Shane told me he wanted Mairead to tell him why he had put secret cameras in his house and tried to taken a vial of his blood from his house and poisoned it with spiders," she said.

Ms Grogan told the court Shane then took off a "large leather bracelet" from his left forearm and under this was "the pouch" which he had the knife in and used to stab Mairead Moran.

The court heard that gardai came to Ms Grogan's house around 9pm and arrested her cousin.

Under cross examination Ms Grogan told Mr Cody that a bag he had which contained green crystals was used "to catch fairies" and the fairies "warded off evil."

Ms Grogan told the court she was aware prior to May 8 2014 that her cousin had been "diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic."

The partner of Ms Grogan Christy Fahy was the next witness to be called by Mr O'Kelly and he told the court that when he asked Mr Smyth where did he stab Ms Moran he "said the back of her head and her neck."

"He said he wanted to confront Ms Moran for taking blood out of his body and putting poison spiders through his letterbox," said Mr Fahy.

"He was talking about catching fairies and finding a cure for cancer. He said he had special powers to protect him from spirits," he added.

Counsel then read a statement from the brother of the accused Mr Neil Smyth.

Mr Smyth said Shane was the youngest child and a "clinical schizophrenic" who was committed to St Canice's Hospital eight or nine years ago.

The court heard Shane Smyth tried to push his mother down the stairs in the past, use to light fires in his bedroom, spoke about witch magic, wrote a poem about death and pinned it to a door with a knife.

Mr O'Kelly read that the accused had been mentally sick for ten years and had "cut his ties with his family" as he thought they were trying to get him committed.

Mr Smyth recalled one incident when his brother Shane had punched his father in the nose.

The court heard it was Neil Smyth who rang the gardai in Kilkenny after he spoke to his cousin Ms Grogan.

Prosecution counsel Mr Brian O'Shea BL then called Sergeant Mark Carley of Waterford garda station who was present when Shane Smyth was arrested on suspicion of murder at his cousins house at 10.05pm that night.

Upon arrest the court heard that Shane Smyth said: "I stabbed her, she tried to steal my blood."

The death of Ms Moran was pronounced at 9.58pm on May 8 2014 and identified by her mother Margo Moran at 12.05am on May 9 2014.

Detective Sargent Colin Furlong from Kilkenny garda station told Mr O'Kelly that when Mr Smyth was in custody he requested a blood sample to be taken from him.

The court heard that "nothing was detected" in the blood sample which was later sent to the forensic science lab and this included screenings for ethanol and prescribed drugs.

The trial continues.

By Alison O'Riordan