Court hearing Jury begin deliberations in trial of man accused of murdering partner after 'binge drinking'
A jury has begun deliberating in the trial of a man accused of murdering his partner of four months by strangling her to death in her bedroom after a "binge" drinking session.
Mr Justice Michael MacGrath concluded his charge to the jurors today in the Central Criminal Court trial of Sean Nolan (36), with an address at Ashington Crescent, Navan Road in Dublin, who has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Amanda Carroll (33) at Homestead Court, Quarry Road, Cabra, Dublin 7 on October 21, 2018.
The accused told detectives that he put one hand on the neck of his partner and the other over her mouth after she called him by the name of her ex-boyfriend, said she never loved him and tried to hit him. "I was angry. I just wanted her to go asleep and stop," Mr Nolan told gardai.
He insisted that he never set out with an intention to kill his partner and it was accidental if he had caused her death.
The defendant also told gardai that he knew his girlfriend was dead when he woke up in her bed the following morning and "just panicked" before he ran out of the apartment.
Evidence has been given that gardai found Mr Nolan on a North Dublin street after they identified the body of Ms Carroll, with the accused telling them that the couple had argued and he thought he had “choked her until she passed out".
The defendant said he had "freaked" and spent the day walking around. When he was then arrested on the Navan Road and placed in a patrol car, Mr Nolan said “I probably killed her” when told of Ms Carroll’s death.
The defendant also gestured to the arresting officer how he had put his hand on his partner's neck and over her mouth "to get her to shut up".
Ms Carroll died from compression of her neck and mouth which was complicated by the ingestion of sedative type drugs. Ethanol, Diazepine, sleeping tablets, alcohol, antidepressants and cocaine were detected in the deceased's system. Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, testified that Ms Carroll's death could not have occurred without asphyxia but the drugs consumed had an added effect.
Ms Carroll's body was discovered in the bedroom of her apartment by her then 16-year-old son Denis Carroll who had left the house that morning to play football not knowing that his mother was dead.
Denis Carroll told the trial that he could see his mother was not breathing saying: "I could see her cheek was puffy and she was cold. I knew that I was not going to see her again."
Completing his charge to the jury this morning, Mr Justice MacGrath outlined that their particular focus should be on what the accused said in relation to what had happened when he and Ms Carroll returned to her apartment on the night.
"You should focus on what Mr Nolan said about his actions and the reasons he gave for his actions," he explained.
The judge told the jury panel that because murder is a crime of specific intent, then voluntary intoxication may be a defence to murder.
He also asked the jurors to focus on the consumption of intoxicants by the defendant saying: "You have to consider whether the accused was intoxicated and if so whether the intoxication was such that it resulted in the accused not having the necessary intention to kill or cause serious injury to Ms Carroll."
Furthermore, Mr Justice MacGrath warned the jury that if they had any doubt about whether Mr Nolan was intoxicated, which resulted in him not having an intention to kill or cause serious injury to his partner then they must give him the benefit of the doubt and acquit him of murder.
In summary, the judge said it was up to the jurors to determine whether the prosecution had satisfied them of Mr Nolan's guilt of the crime of murder. "If you have any questions or issues or would like to revisit a particular portion of the evidence, I will facilitate you as far as I can," he said.
The jury can return two verdicts in relation to the murder charge against Mr Nolan, namely; guilty of murder or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
Mr Justice MacGrath asked the 12 jurors to be unanimous in their verdict.
The jurors were sent out to commence their deliberations around 11.30am today but were unable to begin considering their verdict until 3pm as their assigned courtroom was occupied.
The judge told the jury this afternoon that they will not be expected to continue their deliberations beyond 4pm each day and asked them to consider all of the evidence. "There is no urgency to your deliberations and don't rush to judgment. Take as much time as you need," he concluded.
In his closing speech, prosecution counsel Shane Costelloe SC argued that there could be no doubt that Mr Nolan intended to kill or cause serious injury when he put his hand around Ms Carroll's neck for 20 seconds.
The barrister said that a drunken intent is still an intent and one can decide in a split second to kill or cause serious injury to someone when they have alcohol taken.
Defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC with Garrett McCormack BL submitted in his closing address that their client was too drunk to form the intent to murder his partner and what had happened to Ms Carroll was an "accidental death". Mr O'Higgins asked for a verdict of manslaughter on the grounds of lack of intent due to alcohol intoxication.
"Under no circumstances did he intend to injure or kill his girlfriend, his conduct [earlier in the evening] emphatically points the other way," submitted the lawyer.
The jury has heard that Mr Nolan and Ms Carroll were involved in a road traffic collision on the afternoon before she was killed and both had fled the scene before being intercepted. Evidence was given that the accused man's bloods were taken as there was a concern he was drink driving or drug driving.