Murder trial hears accused often said he'd 'batter and torture' homeless man

CourtsBy Natasha Reid
Ciaran Moran, accused of murdering Gerard Donnelly
Ciaran Moran, accused of murdering Gerard Donnelly

A witness has told a murder trial that the accused would often say he was going to ‘batter and torture’ the deceased, who was a homeless man with a large amount of money.

Eamon Flynn was giving evidence to the Central Criminal Court today in the trial of another homeless man, charged with murdering Gerard Donnelly in a Dublin park in 2013.
The court heard that Gardaí found the 36-year-old’s body on fire in the Phoenix Park. The father of one died of blunt force trauma to the head before being set alight. He had almost €150,000 in funds at the time.
Ciaran Moran (29), with an address at Camden Hall, Camden Street in Dublin has pleaded not guilty to murdering him at an unknown time during November 28th or 29th, 2013.
An acquaintance of both men testified at his trial yesterday.
“When he (the accused) was drinking, he would often say he was going to batter Gerry,” said Eamon Flynn. “He said that he (the deceased) had money and all, and that he was going to batter him and torture him.”
Mr Flynn also said that he was with the accused around October 2013, when he bought a fold-up army shovel and an orange jump suit. He said that he stood outside, while the accused bought the items in a camping shop on Capel Street in Dublin.
He said that that the accused purchased a balaclava and a knife on another occasion.
“He showed me when he came out of the shop,” he said.
Under cross examination by Patrick Gageby SC, defending, Mr Flynn agreed that it was no secret that the deceased had ‘a wad of money’.
He also said that he had borrowed money from the deceased a few times. He said that Mr Donnelly was a harmless fellow, who didn’t do drugs or drink much.
He agreed with the barrister that there would be ‘a lot of blather’ when Mr Moran was drunk and that sometimes he would tell a fantastic story, ‘crazy stuff’.
He agreed that he hadn’t taken ‘the battering story’ seriously and would have told Mr Donnelly if he had.
Under re-examination by the prosecution, he agreed that a lot of people would have known that the deceased had money, but that Mr Moran was the only person who had expressed how to get it.
Another acquaintance, Eamon Mahon, testified that he got a glimpse of what was in Mr Moran’s bag one day. He said he saw a blue canister, hammer and balaclava inside.
Michael Foley of McQuillan Tools on Capel Street said that he sold a lump hammer, cable ties, a gas blow lamp, white spirits and other items to a dishevelled man on November 21st that year. He said the gas blow lamp came with a cylinder and its own ignition.
He identified the receipt for €100 worth of goods from 9.41am that day and said he remembered the customer.
“The gentleman in question didn’t look like he was in construction,” he recalled. “This person looked dishevelled, not well kept.”
The jury also heard that the accused did not stay in his hostel on the night of November 28th that year.
Project Worker Michelle Toolan testified that, according to documents, Mr Moran stayed in Camden Hall on November 26th and 27th that year.
“He was a no show on the 28th,” she said, adding that he returned the following night.
She said that gardai arrived to search his room on December 2nd and she provided them with an envelope that the accused had given to hostel staff.
She identified the envelope in court, taking out a receipt for Penny Farthing Cycles.
Graham Doyle of Penny Farthing Cycles on Camden Street was asked to identify a receipt from his shop in court.
He confirmed that the receipt for a bicycle, lights and a lock was dated November 29th, 2013 at 18.13. The total was €684, he said.
He said the transaction was pretty quick, done in 15 to 20 minutes. He said the shop generally took the name and telephone number of a customer and he read the name provided to him that day as Ciaran Moran.
The trial continues before Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan and a jury of nine men and three women.