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Picture of severed toe sent from murder accused's phone on night of alleged killing

Ciaran Moran
Ciaran Moran

A photograph of a severed toe was sent from a phone attributed to a murder accused the night after he’s alleged to have killed an acquaintance, who was found ablaze with his toe amputated.

A jury heard the evidence yesterday in the trial of a 29-year-old homeless man, charged with murdering another homeless man, who had almost €150,000 in a bank account.

The jury saw CCTV footage, which the State said showed the accused walking towards the scene shortly before the killing. Other footage was shown, which the State said showed the accused lodging and spending money the following day.

The Central Criminal Court has heard that 36-year-old Gerard Donnelly had €8,500 in cash and €140,000 in a bank account just weeks before Gardaí found his body on fire in the Phoenix Park.

The father of one died of blunt force trauma to the head before being set alight and having his little toe amputated.

Ciaran Moran, with an address at Camden Hall, Camden Street in Dublin has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Donnelly at an unknown time during November 28th or 29th, 2013.

Detective Garda Eamon O’Brien testified that he found an image of a toe on a Sony Xperia phone that a friend of the accused said he had taken from Mr Moran on November 30th. The jury had already seen the photograph.

The detective said the image was in the sent folder of WhatsApp, a mobile application used to send messages. He said it had been created at 10.41pm on November 29th and seemed to have been sent from the phone at that time. He did not have any information on the recipient.

Richard Doyle testified last week that he had taken the Sony from the accused to call an ambulance for him on the night of November 30th. He said the accused disappeared before he could return the phone to him. He handed it over to Gardaí a few days later.

The trial also heard yesterday that Gardaí found a Sony Xperia box and a €170 menswear shop receipt dated November 29th under Mr Moran’s bed.

Garda Ciara O’Sullivan said she searched under his bunk in Camden Hostel on December 1st that year.

She found a bag from Penthouse Menswear, which contained a Sony Xperia box and a headphones box. She also found a receipt for €170 from Penthouse in Jervis Shopping Centre from 3.19pm on November 29th.

Garda Jennifer Connolly showed the jury a compilation of CCTV footage, which she said depicted Mr Moran’s movements in the days before and after the alleged murder.

Footage from 10.22pm on November 28th showed three people walking past the Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ) on Parkgate Street in the direction of the park. She pointed out the person she believed to be the accused and explained that the CCJ was the last building before the park entrance.

She then played footage captured at Mr Moran’s hostel at 9.20am the following day. She pointed out Ciaran Moran.

“I believe this may be cash in his possession,” she said of what he was holding in his hand.

The next footage played was captured at the AIB in Kells at 11.25am that day. She pointed out Mr Moran entering and approaching a self-service lodgement machine.

“He appears to have a large sum of cash in his hands. He appears to lodge it,” she said.

The next clip came from Carphone Warehouse on Henry Street in Dublin. She said it showed Mr Moran appearing to purchase something at 2.22pm.

“The shop assistant appears to bag up a large box, possibly the headphones,” she said.

Footage from 7 o’clock that evening appeared to show Mr Moran enter a bicycle shop and the garda noted that the white headphones he had been wearing in previous shots had now been replaced by black headphones.

She noted that he appeared to be paying for an item by card.

“Here he is leaving with a mountain bike, which I believe is the same mountain bike,” she said. She was referring to a €600 bicycle that staff at his hostel said belonged to Mr Moran and which was shown to the jury last week.

Under cross examination by the defence, Garda Connolly agreed that she had also tracked other people of interest to the investigation. She agreed that a German couple, who had been seen with the accused, were last captured by CCTV at a ferry terminal shortly before 1pm that November 29th.

The trial has now gone into legal argument and will continues tomorrow before Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan and a jury of nine men and three women.