Man jailed for life for murder moves to appeal conviction

Jonathan Duke
Jonathan Duke

A man jailed for life for the murder of Jonathan Duke in Bandon five years ago, has moved to appeal his conviction.

Romanian national Ciprian Grozavu (42), with an address at Bridge House, Sean Hales Place, Bandon, Co Cork had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Duke at Bridge House, Bandon on November 12, 2011.

Grozavu was found guilty of Mr Duke's murder by a jury at the Central Criminal Court and was given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Paul Carney on July 17, 2013.

In the Court of Appeal today, Grozavu's barrister, Thomas Creed SC, said the three-judge court had to allow his client's appeal if there had been the risk of a different verdict.

Mr Creed submitted that in answering a question from the jury on whether they could return a verdict of manslaughter without prejudicing the outcome for another accused, the trial judge failed to “just say 'yes'”.

That was only one way to answer the question, Mr Creed said. However, the jury had been left with the impression that they could have prejudiced another trial if they returned a verdict of manslaughter in Grozavu's case.

Furthermore, Mr Creed said the trial judge had addressed the jury on the question of common design when it wasn't part of the prosecution's case.

Finally, he submitted that the trial judge erred in failing to discharge the jury at the close of the prosecution's case.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Timothy O'Leary SC, said it was never a “murder/manslaughter trial”. Grozavu's defence had always been that he didn't do it, Mr O'Leary said.

Had Grozavu been found guilty of manslaughter, Mr O'Leary said the conviction would not have made any sense because nobody in court was arguing for that result.

Mr O'Leary said the trial judge had cured the common design issue when he told the jury to ignore it and there was a significant amount of evidence to leave the case go to the jury.

Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court would reserve judgment.