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State Pathologist says victim died from stab wound to chest

Central Criminal Court
Central Criminal Court

The State Pathologist has told a murder trial jury that a 32 year old man died from a single stab wound to his right upper chest.

Trevor Corr (39) has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of James Humphries (32) at Kiltalown Way in Tallaght on September 22, 2013. This plea was not accepted by the State.

Today counsel for the State Mr Denis Vaughan Buckley SC called Chief State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy to give evidence and she told the court she carried out a post mortem on the body of Mr Humphries on September 23 2013.

Prof Cassidy told counsel she was informed that efforts to save the life of the deceased proved unsuccessful and Mr Humphries was declared dead at 19.08 on September 22 2013.

Prof Cassidy told the court that the deceased had received a single stab wound situated 1.5cm below the collarbone. "It was a traverse wound, 2cm wide and gaping to 0.8cm," she said.

The court heard the injury did not penetrate into the deceased's chest cavity but had punctured the right subclavian artery and vein. The anatomical depth was approximately 5cm.

The stab wound had not involved the chest cavity or organs the court heard.

The court heard Mr Humphries blood and urine samples "showed a high level of alcohol" and there were also "therapeutic levels of Heroin, Methadone and Diazepam" found. While these would have affected his actions and reactions they would not have contributed to his death.

It was Prof Cassidy's opinion that the injury was likely caused by a knife with a "fairly narrow blade with a short tip."

Prof Cassidy told the court that her conclusion from the post mortem was that Mr Humphries had been "fatally injured in a knife assault" by a single stab wound to the  upper chest located below his right collarbone.

"The blade had tracked upwards, back and toward the centre of the body through the soft tissues of the neck. The body cavities had not been penetrated, but the vessels behind the collarbone, the right subclavian artery and vein, had been punctured," she said.

The court heard the injury would not have caused immediate death and he would have been capable of moving around for a period of time before he collapsed.

The cause of death was a stab wound to the upper chest with injury to the right subclavian artery and vein.

Prof Cassidy agreed with defence counsel Mr Brendan Grehan SC that the deceased was a heroin addict and there was a sinus in the left groin, "consistent with chronic intravenous drug abuse."

The State pathologist agreed with counsel that it was "a fairly shallow wound" which would have required "little force."

"The knife would have been capable of being shoved in a lot further, it’s a sharp and robust knife?" asked counsel.

"Yes only the bottom half of the blade had penetrated the body," replied Prof Cassidy.

The second witness Detective Garda Colm Rochford of Tallaght garda station was then called by Mr Vaughan Buckley.

On September 23 2013 Det Gda Rochford went into an interview room with Det Gda Ivor Wilkinson where he took handwritten notes and electronically recorded interviews with Trevor Corr.

During the interview Trevor Corr told gardai he was an alcoholic for the last twenty years whose memory was "gone" and he could not "remember things."

Mr Vaughan Buckley read that Mr Corr told gardai he denied stabbing the deceased as he could "not see" himself stabbing a man.

He also told gardai he did not remember meeting Mr Humphries or who was in his house on the day as he had been drinking for a week previously.

"I cant believe the man is dead, I just cant see myself killing a man, ill probably get killed after this," Mr Corr told gardai.

The court heard Mr Corr's house in Tallaght had been robbed three times previously and he leaves his front door open when he is there.

The court heard Mr Corr suffers from Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease (CMT)  which affects one's balance and muscles.

In another interview Mr Corr told gardai it "must be" him saying: "I was in a trance and blacked out but can’t remember doing it."

The trial continues.