NewsCourts

Murder accused "stabbed inmate in the heart and said 'If I get life it doesn’t matter"

Brian Veale
Brian Veale

A murder accused stabbed a fellow Cork prison inmate in the heart and smiled as he told a witness: "If I get a life sentence it doesn’t matter", a jury has heard.

On Monday at the Central Criminal Court, Brian Veale (31) of Dominic Street, Cork pleaded not guilty to murdering Graham Johnson at Cork Prison, Rathmore Road in Cork City on May 16, 2015.

Opening the prosecution case to a jury this morning, Mr Tim O'Leary SC told the court that both men were inmates at Cork Prison and they knew each other.

Mr O'Leary said it would be alleged that an altercation arose between the two men “over a switching of a television channel” in the kitchen where the inmates were preparing food.

“An altercation appeared to have occurred between the two men in relation to switching channels between a racing channel and Sky Sports News,” he said.

Counsel told the jury they will also hear that the altercation took place and then finished but sometime after 5pm that same day Mr Veale “came across a part of the kitchen with a knife” and stabbed the deceased in the chest area.

This afternoon prosecution counsel Mr O’Leary called Ming Feng Chen, who was an inmate in Cork Prison in May 2015, to give evidence.

The court heard that the witness had been in Cork Prison since November 2012 on account of operating a grow house. He has since been released. 

Graham Johnson

The witness told Mr O'Leary that he began working in the kitchen with Brian Veale at 7.30am on May 16 and during the day there was “a good few people” in the kitchen.

“There was a cake prepared and we were sharing the cake and having a chat. On television was horse racing, I went over to watch the channel,” said the witness.

Mr Feng Chen told the court that Brian Veale “approached” the deceased and “stabbed him with a knife in the heart area.”

“I shouted and said: ‘Why u kill him’,” said the witness.

Mr Veale held the knife, which had a lot of blood on it, in his hand before dropping it on the ground, the court heard. 

“He (Brian Veale) then smiled at me, called my name and said: ‘If I get a life sentence it doesn’t matter’,” said the witness.

Mr Feng Chen told the court that he then picked up the knife as he was afraid Brian Veale was going to hurt him as he was “abnormal.”

The witness said Mr Johnson held his chest after he was stabbed and “slowly fell” on the ground.

“Brian was standing there and just looking,” said the witness.

Earlier this afternoon the prosecution called Brian Forde, a prison officer at Cork Prison, to give evidence.

Mr Forde told the court that he was supervising the prisoners in the kitchen on May 15 when he heard a “heated argument” between the accused and the deceased as to what channel to watch on television.

“My memory is that Brian Veale was looking to watch the sports channel and Graham Johnson was looking to watch horse racing. I instructed them to stop arguing which they did after a short time. Mr Veale left the area and Mr Johnson continued to watch the television,” said Mr Forde.

The witness told the court that “again” at 5.50pm he heard an altercation and raised voices coming from near the television.

“I got up to investigate and when I came around the corner I observed Mr Johnson holding his chest at the back of the kitchen. He was obviously in distress,” he said.

There was “another prisoner” called Ming Feng Chen holding a knife with blood on the blade, he said.

“Ming Feng Chen looked fairly shocked, he was holding the knife in a downward position in a non-threatening manner. Mr Veale looked relatively calm and had blood splatter on his right forearm,” he said.

A medic was called to attend to Mr Johnson who was sitting on the floor.

The court heard that the knife was a “large carving knife” which had a “large blade with a sharp tip.”

Mr Forde told the court that the knives were kept in a “knife safe” under the television in the kitchen and if a prisoner needed a knife to prepare food, they would approach an officer and select a knife to use.

“My duty is that after the knife is used, it is sterilised and returned to the cabinet. That day Ming Feng Chen asked me for a knife to use to prepare vegetables which I gave to him,” he said.

The trial continues before Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy and a jury of seven men and five women.