Lawyers for a man who shot his uncle ask jury for manslaughter verdict
Lawyers for a man, who shot his uncle dead, have asked his trial jury for a verdict of manslaughter rather than murder on grounds of provocation.
Caroline Biggs SC was giving her closing speech yesterday in the trial of Dublin father-of-one David Cully, who has admitted killing Edward O’Connor. The 41-year-old died of two gun-shot wounds to his back.
Cully of Kilshane Road, Finglas West has pleaded not guilty to murdering his uncle, but guilty to his manslaughter at Ballycoolin Road, Finglas West on December 15th, 2013.
The 24-year-old claims he shot him ‘in the heat of the moment’ after he commented about somebody who had made an allegation of sexual abuse against him (the deceased). The allegation was investigated, but the DPP had decided not to prosecute.
The Central Criminal Court trial heard that both men had attended an organised ‘straightener’ between two other men on the day of the killing and that Cully shot his uncle in the back after the fight.
Cully told gardai that his uncle had made a comment that had caused him to lose control: ‘Tell the red pox I was asking for her’. He said this was in reference to the person who had made the allegation against the deceased, an allegation Cully believed.
Ms Biggs told the jury yesterday that words could indeed be capable of provocation and that her client was not asking for a verdict of not guilty.
“This is not about him walking away from his responsibility,” she said. “He is a killer. He killed Mr O’Connor. Of that there is no doubt.”
“Red pox,” she remarked. “A word you’ll not see in Irish slang.”
She noted that Mr O’Connor’s son, Darren O’Connor, had been asked to explain it in court.
“It means she’s a no-good c**t,” replied Mr O’Connor during the trial.
Not a common word, he had agreed that it was used in conversation among the O’Connors, but that this was not something Cully would have known.
She said it was a deep insult to the person who, rightly or wrongly, her client believed had been sexually abused by Edward O’Connor. She noted that, as a result of his belief, he had been ostracised from the large O’Connor family to which he had been very close.
She said there was nothing right about brining a loaded gun to the scene, but noted that Cully had said he had brought it so he wouldn’t be afraid.
She noted that he had fired the gun in the air during the fight, when a third person had become involved.
“If David Cully’s intention was to go up there and shoot somebody, why would he indicate to all and sundry that he had it?” she asked.
However, the prosecution argued that the killing was pre-planned, noting that it was Cully who had organised the ‘straightener’ that day by phoning the deceased.
“He rang the man he said he had hatred for,” said Pauline Walley SC in her closing speech.
“Is that somebody, who wanted to heal a family rift before Christmas or who is preparing to sort Edward O’Connor out for once and for all?” she asked.
She noted the evidence of State witnesses, who said that Cully had threatened to kill Mr O’Connor a week earlier and that the deceased had been frightened.
“Is it credible he (the deceased) would make that remark when he had a gun in his hand?” she asked.
“What’s he doing there with a gun? Why did he set this up?” she asked of the accused.
She later warned against judgement of the surrounding circumstances.
“Just because this way of living and interacting is different doesn’t mean you sit in judgment and say: ‘Well, what do you expect?’” she said.
She added that Cully had organised this and that this was his world too.
“At the end of the day, he was the orchestrator; he was the aggressor; he was the killer,” she concluded.
Mr Justice Carroll Moran will this morning charge the jury of seven women and five men, who are expected to begin their deliberations in the afternoon.
Yesterday morning’s evidence
A woman has told a murder trial that she saw uncles of the murder accused attack him with sewer rods about six months before he shot one of his uncles dead.
Claire McKiernan was giving evidence for the defence. She testified that she was living across the road from Cully’s aunt, Gráinne Brannigan, in the summer of 2013, when she witnessed an ‘argument in the garden with some of the (Ms Brannigan’s) brothers, David (Cully), Niall (Cully) and Big Paul (Brannigan)’.
“The first thing I remember is the jeep coming around the corner,” she said. “It came around at speed.”
She said that it stopped outside Ms Brannigan’s house and three men in their 40s got out.
“Two of them had sewer rods for cleaning drains,” she said.
“They’re brothers I wouldn’t know,” she added. “The jeep used to go up and down Cappagh Road and Gráinne used to wave... It’s gold with an orange light on the top.”
She said that the accused was fixing a bike in his aunt’s garden at the time.
“He was crouched down,” she said.
She said that Cully’s brother, Niall Cully, and Ms Brannigan’s husband, Paul Brannigan, were also there.
“The two bigger ones sort of just ran with the sewer rods towards Niall and David,” she said. “The two boys were up on the wall, trying to get away from them.”
She said she thought that Mr Brannigan had been hit.
“They were there about four or five minutes and then sped off,” she said.
Under cross examination by the prosecution, she agreed that she had never made a statement about this to the Gardaí.
“It’s a family thing,” she said. “I didn’t want to get involved.”