Witnesses give testimonies in trial of man accused of murdering former rugby player

Cathal Sweeney
Cathal Sweeney

The defence counsel in the trial of a man accused of the murder of a former Dublin rugby club captain last year has told a witness that his suggestion of waking up to hear noise in the bedroom of a Terenure flat is "a lie, nothing less."

Gary Walsh (32) with an address at Ravensdale Park, Kimmage, Dublin 15 has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Cathal Sweeney at a house in Terenure on February 8 2014.

Mr Walsh, however pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Sweeney at the Central Criminal Court on Tuesday but this plea was not accepted by the State.

This morning taxi man Michael McGuinness was called to give evidence for the State. Familiar with the deceased, Mr McGuinness told the court Mr Sweeney had "a slight problem with alcohol and that was the sadness of it all.  He always drank in the Terenure Inn."

Reading from a statement given by the accused in Terenure Garda Station on February 9 2014, prosecution counsel Mr Patrick McCarthy SC read that the deceased was sitting on the two seater and Mr Walsh on the one seater in the sitting room of the flat having an argument about a sex allegation.

Mr McCarthy read from the statement: "Cathal kept telling me to shut up and I went to where he was sitting and I punched him, mainly in the face with my right hand. He tried to defend himself as there was a lot of blood. I told him to go in and clean himself up. I hit him 6/7 times but probably more."

The prosecution counsel then called Mr Colm Campbell who was renting a flat in Ashdale Gardens on February 8 2014. 

Mr Campbell who was a friend of the deceased told counsel he is an alcoholic and a "habitual drinker of a drink all day and all night."

The jury of eight men and four women then heard that on the day the deceased Cathal Sweeney, the accused Gary Walsh and Mr Campbell were watching the Ireland-Wales rugby match.

"I had invited Cathal Sweeney down to watch the match at my flat and he came at 11am that morning. As time went on I was taking on more alcohol. My mind is not perfect and I don’t know if I blacked out or nodded off asleep but the next thing I remember hearing was a fight coming from the bedroom. 

"I went into the bedroom and I heard Gary Walsh calling Cathal Sweeney various names like a paedophile and Cathal was responding telling him to fuck off. Gary Walsh was looking for money from Cathal Sweeney, saying he wanted the money and wanted it now," said Mr Campbell. 

Mr Campbell told the barrister at the time the deceased was sitting on the bed with his hands over his face and he could see blood rolling down. 

"Gary Walsh was standing there but then he hit him again and hit him again. I would say 15-20 times. He hit him in the head and he also used his elbows. I would say it was considerable force," said the witness. 

The court heard Mr Campbell was aware of an inheritance the deceased had previously received.
Mr Campbell then told the court that the accused then followed him out of the bedroom and they left Mr Sweeney in the room. 
"For no particular reason Gary Walsh went back into the bedroom and I heard it all kicking off again. I didn’t go in immediately but when I did Cathal Sweeney was naked and he was lying on the bed. What I witnessed next was Gary Walsh grabbing Cathal  by the ankles and pulling him off onto the floor. He was naked and his face was covered in blood. When he was on the floor I saw him kicking him and stamping on his head and torso. It only lasted 30 seconds," said the witness.
The jury then heard from the witness that when both men were back in the sitting room, there was no sound or moaning coming from Cathal Sweeey. 
"There was a silence. I think Gary Walsh went in first and when we looked at him, Gary said: 'god I think he is dead'. Gary asked me to get his phone and dialled 999," said Mr Campbell.
In the afternoon defence counsel Mr Brendan Grehan SC put it to the witness that he was "manipulative" and "devious" and had tried to "distance" himself from the events and paint the accused in as "black a light as possible"?
"I would refute that allegation," replied the witness.
"Gary Walsh isn't suggesting you assaulted Cathal Sweeey in any way and he has pleaded guilty and taken full responsibility for his actions. Mr Walsh said this happened in the sitting room in your presence and you were instrumental in starting it?," put the barrister to the witness. 
"I have no recollection of the matter kicking off and I don’t remember anything in the sitting room," replied Mr Campbell.
"Is that not too convenient?" asked Mr Grehan.
"That is the reason I went to a therapist to see could she bring me back. I wanted to try and remember it but I couldn't," replied Mr Campbell.
Mr Grehan told the witness how it was quite clear that the deceased was sitting just three feet away from him on the sofa. The barrister put it to him that the "arguing and fighting" had occurred in the sitting room in Mr Campbell's presence and he had contributed "verbally" to it. 
"That’s just a suggestion but I can't recall anything," replied the witness. 
"I'm putting it to you that what you described happening in the bedroom never happened and what you are doing in your evidence is distancing yourself from Mr Walsh's attack on Mr Sweeney. 

"You shift everything into the bedroom so its out of your sight and you try to play the hero afterwards stopping Mr Walsh. I'm suggesting it's a lie, nothing less, waking up to hear noise in the bedroom," said the counsel. 

“I've no recollection of anything in the sitting room,” replied Mr Campbell. 

The trial continues.