jury charge | 

Judge tells jury they must decide if man accused of boxer Kevin Sheehy's murder was provoked

Logan Jackson (31) has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to Mr Sheehy's (20) manslaughter
Champion boxer Kevin Sheehy

Champion boxer Kevin Sheehy

Alison O’Riordan 

A jury must decide if a UK man who denies murdering Irish boxing champion Kevin Sheehy was provoked before he repeatedly ran over the talented athlete in his jeep.

Logan Jackson (31), of Longford Road, Coventry, England has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to Mr Sheehy's (20) manslaughter at Hyde Road in Limerick city on July 1, 2019.

Mr Jackson also denies intentionally or recklessly engaging in conduct which created a substantial risk of death or serious harm to others to wit; driving a Mitsubishi jeep vehicle dangerously at high speed in the direction of pedestrians on the same occasion.

The charge of endangerment is contrary to Section 13 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.

Mr Sheehy, a five times Irish boxing champion, was repeatedly run over by a Mitsubishi Shogun jeep and died as a result of multiple injuries, including a "catastrophic skull fracture".

His body was found lying on the road at about 4.40am after attending a house party to celebrate the Munster hurling final match.

The trial has previously heard from Mr Sheehy's cousin who said that after the party, he tried to grab on to the 20-year-old before he was struck and "taken away" from him by the speeding jeep.

The court also heard that at around 4.40am on the night Thomas Lysaght tried to pull Mr Sheehy off the ground but the vehicle "spun around" and came back towards them for a second time.

"I had to let Kevin go and move away. He was dragged up the road," Mr Lysaght told the trial.

The witness described how he then tried to divert the driver's attention away from his cousin but that the jeep "went over" the talented athlete a third time before fleeing the scene.

Boxer Kevin Sheehy's funeral arrives at the Holy Family Church, Southill 
Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22

Boxer Kevin Sheehy's funeral arrives at the Holy Family Church, Southill Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22

Beginning her charge to the jury this morning, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon said the accused was entitled to remain silent and was not obliged to give evidence in his own defence.

Furthermore, they were not entitled to speculate on the evidence in the case, she said.

The judge warned the jury about telling lies and said the evidence is that Mr Jackson had lied to gardai during his interviews.

"The mere fact a defendant tells a lie is not evidence of guilt.

"The defendant in a criminal case may lie for many reasons. They may lie to protect someone else or lie out of panic and confusion," she explained.

When considering the accused's intent, Ms Justice Creedon said the jury must decide if it was Mr Jackson's purpose to kill or cause serious injury to the deceased.

"If you are satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Jackson killed Mr Sheehy unlawfully and intended to cause him serious harm or death then the offence of murder had been made out," she said.

If the accused did not have the necessary intent for murder, she said, then they must acquit Mr Jackson of murder.

It is the defence case that Mr Jackson did unlawfully kill Mr Sheehy and they had raised the partial defence of provocation, which can reduce a charge of murder to manslaughter.

It was the defence contention that the murder charge had not been made out, she added.

To consider this partial defence, the jury must be satisfied that the accused intended to kill the victim or cause him serious injury.

When considering if the accused was provoked, they must consider the evidence clearly, she said.

For provocation to be relied upon where there must be a sudden, and not a considered or planned, total loss of self-control that the accused was unable to prevent himself from committing the act which led to the death of Mr Sheehy.

The loss of control must be such a complete overwhelming of ordinary self-restraint that the accused could not help intending to inflict death or serious injury.

That total loss of self-control in consequence of provocation cannot be because of intoxication on drink or drugs, said the judge.

Loss of self-control must be in response to a genuinely serious provocation, not a mere insult, by the victim. The defence, she said, did not apply to "warped notions of honour" nor hurt to male pride.

If the jurors find that the accused was provoked then the charge of murder is reduced to manslaughter and they can return a verdict of not guilty of murder.

The judge said there were two counts on the indictment and each offence gets a separate trial.

In his closing speech, prosecution counsel Dean Kelly SC argued that Mr Jackson could have kept driving instead of "flying into a murderous rage" and "thundering" his jeep "like a Formula 1 driver" into the talented athlete. He insisted that the evidence in the case "required and demanded" a verdict of guilty of murder.

Referring to Mr Jackson's interviews with gardai, the barrister said he had created a "tapestry of lies" and "the flavouring of the truth" had been employed by him in a fundamentally dishonest way.

Going through the evidence in the trial, Mr Kelly said that the "stupid, banal, ordinary" argument between himself and Mr Sheehy lasted 90 seconds at its height and one could see from the CCTV footage how unphysical it was.

Mr Lysaght testified that the accused had his top off, which Mr Sheehy noticed and said: "Look at the muscles on that guy".

When asked by the prosecution if this man was indeed "a fella with big muscles", Mr Lysaght said he was not.

Defence counsel Michael Bowman SC said in his closing address that the CCTV footage was "all pictures and no sounds, it tells us something but not everything".

The battleground in the case, he said, was what happened before Mr Jackson got into his car that night and what was in his mind.

The accused young man who had alcohol in his system and someone with a prosthetic leg which he was conscious of. "He had hurt in his heart and was angry because of it," he added.

The prosecution case lacked the granular detail of fact and truth, he submitted, adding that the manslaughter plea that had been entered was the only possible verdict to return.

The jury have been told that Mr Jackson is a native of Coventry in the UK and has "some family connections" in Limerick.

The trial has also heard that Mr Sheehy and Mr Jackson had "an exchange" moments after leaving a house party where they had gone to celebrate Limerick’s Munster hurling final victory over Tipperary in 2019.

The court was told that "some exception was taken by something that was said or words spoken".

The five men and five women were sent out to begin their deliberations at 12.30pm today.

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