NewsCourts

'Can't believe the animal is locked up' - Family and friends of murder victim speak out

CourtsBy Sunday World
Guilty of murder: Vesel Jahiri
Guilty of murder: Vesel Jahiri

A Central Criminal Court jury has found Vesel Jahiri guilty of the murder of his former partner and mother of their two children.

Vesel Jahiri stabbed Anna Finnegan to death in her own home a month after she had sought refuge at a women's shelter. Anna Finnegan wrote that Jahiri made her life "hell", and had beaten her and "almost killed her". They had been together since she was 16 years old.

Jurors also found Jahiri guilty of stabbing Anna's brother Karl Finnegan to the chest and head during the same attack.

Jahiri was representing himself at his own trial and was removed from the court on several occasions, the latest coming after he punched the prosecuting barrister in the face and was wrestled to the ground by prison officers. 

Today, before the verdicts were read out, Jahiri was brought into court accompanied by four prison officers dressed in full riot gear. He was handcuffed and two of these prison officers sat next to him in the dock.

As the jury came into court to deliver their verdict Jahiri began to shout: "Jurors I found the 999 call."

A jury which had been reduced to eight men and two women found Jahiri guilty by unanimous verdict of murdering Anna Finnegan. They had deliberated for six hours and 43 minutes.

They also found him guilty by unanimous verdict of assaulting Karl Finnegan, causing him harm.

The judge then had Jahiri removed from court as he was shouting.

Jahiri (35), originally from Kosovo but of no fixed abode, had pleaded not guilty to a charge of murdering Anna Finnegan (25) at Allendale Glen, Clonsilla, Dublin 15 on September 21, 2012.

He had also pleaded not guilty to assaulting Karl Finnegan, causing him harm, at the same place on the same date.

When Jahiri left the courtroom, Mr Justice Coffey said that he had to exclude him as he was disturbing the process of the court but he would bring him back into court after a sentence date was set.

Following today's verdicts, Mr Justice Coffey thanked the jury for their time and exempted them from jury service for life.

"Thank you for the great care and fastidious attention you have given to this long and difficult case," he said. The court adjourned sentencing until May 8.

Jahiri was then brought back into court by the riot police and the judge told him that his sentence date was fixed for May 8. Addressing Jahiri, Mr Justice Coffey said: "You are entitled to free legal aid and entitled to instruct lawyers but it is entirely a matter for you."

Jahiri then started to shout: "What you mean sentence, what conviction, what am I convicted for?"

Mr Justice Coffey remanded Jahiri in custody until that date when two victim impact statements will be before the court.

During the eight-week trial Janice O'Neill, a friend of Anna Finnegan's, was called by the prosecution to give evidence. The witness told the court that Anna called to her house after midday on September 21 with her two children. She said that Anna made a phone call to Mr Jahiri at 6pm and put her phone on loudspeaker so Ms O'Neill could hear the conversation. Ms O'Neill said she heard Mr Jahiri threaten Anna on the phone call, just hours before she died, saying: "I know where you fucking are, I'll come and kill yous [sic]."

The older brother of the deceased, Karl Finnegan, gave evidence that Mr Jahiri had been his sister's partner for ten years. He said they had been together since she was 16 years old and they had two children. Mr Finngean said his sister's relationship with Mr Jahiri ended in August 2012, with Anna moving to Bray Women's Refuge. He said a social worker had put a safety plan in place and he was staying in Anna's house temporarily for that reason.

Mr Finnegan said he got to his sister's house at Allendale Glen around 7.30pm on September 21 and Anna then arrived home with her children. The witness testified that he and his sister were sitting at the kitchen table when they heard a "loud bang" as the front door of the house was being forced in. He looked up and saw Vesel coming down the hall with a knife. Anna screamed and stood up from the table.

Mr Finnegan said he picked up a chair to "keep a bit of distance" between him and Vesel but the chair was then "gone" and he did not know how that happened. Karl Finnegan said he then blacked out and awoke with stab wounds. He said his head was bleeding but he did not realise at the time that blood was coming from his chest. He said Vesel and Anna were no longer in the kitchen. He went outside and saw Anna standing in the driveway of the house next door and Vesel was a few feet in front of her. He said Anna passed out and fell to the ground when they were in front of her house. Vesel then came around the corner in his car, put Anna into the back and drove off.

The court heard Mr Finnegan received two stab wounds, one to his chest and the other to the right side of his head. 

Ms Joan Broe testified that she was walking her dog in the Allendale Glen estate at 8.30pm on September 21 when she heard Anna Finnegan screaming: "Help us, somebody help us." The witness said she then saw Anna Finnegan, Vesel Jahiri and Karl Finnegan in the driveway of the house next door. She said Ms Finnegan was screaming into Mr Jahiri's face saying: "Leave him alone." She said she saw Mr Jahiri chase his former partner, bring her to the ground and punch her to her right-hand side.

Ms Caroline Croly, a next-door neighbour of the deceased, said Anna Finnegan knocked at her front door on the evening of September 21. Ms Croly said Anna looked very frightened and was shaking saying: "Call the police, call the police." The witness said she then saw a figure of a man coming into her garden. Ms Croly said she got a fright and closed the door.

Mr Valdas Marma, a neighbour of the deceased, said in his evidence that he saw a dark-haired woman holding her hands tightly around her body before she collapsed in the driveway.

Lisa Finnegan, the deceased's sister, told the trial that she was driving to James Connolly Memorial Hospital on September 21 when Vesel rang her phone."He told me he was coming down for me and my children next," she said.

The jury viewed CCTV footage of Mr Jahiri driving his car at speed up to the doors of the Accident and Emergency Department at James Connolly Memorial Hospital at 8.50pm on September 21. Mr Jahiri lifted Anna Finnegan out of the back seat of the car and left her on the ground before security personnel arrive and lifted her onto a trolley.

Mr Korill Allen, a security officer attached to James Connolly Memorial Hospital, said he heard a car arrive at the entrance of the Emergency Department at 8.50pm. He said as he was in the process of lifting Anna Finnegan onto a trolley, she pointed at Mr Jahiri and said: "He did it." After moving Anna into the resuscitation area of the hospital, he went outside and both Mr Jahiri and his car were gone.

Dr Joseph McKeever, a trauma surgeon at the hospital gave evidence that Anna Finnegan had a wound on the left hand side of her chest. He said he attempted to resuscitate Ms Finnegan but she was unresponsive and died from blood loss. He declared her dead at 22.31 on September 21.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis told the jury that Anna Finnegan died from a single stab wound to the chest. The stab wound had entered the left chest cavity in the space between the seventh and eight rib and caused a "massive hemorrhage".

Ms Helga Duffy testified that Mr Jahiri came to her house in Dundalk on September 21 and told her "something bad had happened" when he went to see his children at Anna's house that evening. Ms Duffy said Mr Jahiri told her that Anna's brother came at him with a knife and that Anna had got involved but got hurt in her side.

Detective Inspector Ciaran McAnaney told the trial that Mr Jahiri presented himself voluntarily at Cabra garda station at 5.40pm on September 22. The trial heard that Mr Jahiri removed a black-handled kitchen knife from the pocket of his jacket and placed it on a table.

Sergeant Patrick Traynor told the trial that Mr Jahiri said in his first garda interview that he did not stab his former partner and had no weapon on him when he forced his way into her house. He said he was angry as he was told by social services that he would never see his children again.

Dr Hilary Clarke from Forensic Science Ireland gave evidence that DNA matching that of Anna Finnegan was found on the black-handled kitchen knife. She said that two DNA profile's obtained from blood-staining on the tip of the blade and the edge of the knife matched the deceased's profile.

Detective Garda James Cunningham, attached to the Fingerprint Section of the Garda Technical Bureau, said Mr Jahiri's fingermark was found on the blade of the same bloodstained knife that had yielded the deceased's DNA.

The trial also heard that Anna Finnegan wrote a letter to her former partner where she stated that he had beaten her, made her life "hell" and had almost killed her a few times. The three-paged letter, which was never sent to Mr Jahiri, was found in a handbag which was located in the kitchen of Allendale Glen on September 23. The court heard that there was no date on the letter but it was written two or three weeks previously, before Anna moved to Bray Women's Refuge with her two children.

Anna Finnegan also sent text messages to Mr Jahiri saying she did not want to see him again and wanted to feel "safe without some animal beating and bullying" her. The mother-of-two called him "a control freak".

Just two weeks into the trial Jahiri, a mechanic by trade, dismissed his legal team. During the trial, Jahiri alleged that gardai were engaged in "collusion" with witnesses and evidence had been tampered with. Last month, the judge told Jahiri that he was "throwing out allegations" at witnesses "like confetti" and proceeded to exclude Jahiri from court because he was not abiding by correct procedure.

This was Jahiri's second trial for murdering Anna Finnegan after a jury failed to reach a verdict in his first trial in 2014. They had deliberated for more then 10 hours over three days. At the time, the foreman of the jury told Mr Justice Paul McDermott that they had disagreed on both counts and he did not believe that further time would allow them to reach an agreement. Jahiri failed to turn up for the final days of his first trial and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

Lisa Finnegan, a sister of the deceased, spoke outside the Criminal Courts of Justice following today's verdicts. Ms Finnegan said the trial had been "gruelling, exhausting and mentally draining" but "the jury had made the right decision".

"They (the jury) can sleep tight tonight as they have put a very dangerous man away. I urge any young girls out there who are suffering the same as Anna did to come forward and speak to somebody, anybody, somebody will help you," she said.

Ms Finnegan said Anna told her she felt "so alone sometimes" but appealed to young girls that there are people out there who can help them such as a "next-door neighbour, friend, mother, auntie, somebody".

She said she was "so happy" as they had got justice for Anna today. "We could not be happier unless our sister was here with us," she said.

Ms Finnegan said that while it had been a long time to wait, "the weight of the world" had been lifted off her shoulders. "He (Jahiri) absconded for a year and a half and we lived in pure terror for that time," she said.

Referring to the prosecuting barrister getting punched in the face by Jahiri last Friday, Lisa Finnegan said she did not think that "could happen" in a court "in this day and age".

"The world wasn't ready for this person," she said. 

Ms Finnegan said Jahiri "lunged" at her brother, Karl Finnegan, last Friday and he had not been able to come back to court since then. "It has shaken him up bad. It shook us all up very very bad. We are very scared of this man and now the world can see why Anna was so terrified of him and why Anna could never say anything," she said. 

"We are just glad the whole thing is over now and we can move on with our lives, try and be happy again and try and live without Anna," she said. 

Lisa Finnegan said she will visit Anna's grave. “My parents, my brother, my sister, I just want to be with them now and spend some time with them," she said.

Janice O'Neill, a friend of the deceased, said she "could not believe" that Anna had got "the justice she deserved".

"It's taken five very hard years for all of us. I just can't believe the animal is locked up. Thank god," she said. 

Alison O'Riordan