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'chopped up' Murder accused Stephen Penrose tells jury he heard his missing pal was 'eating Big Mac in Jamaica'

Penrose has pleaded not guilty to murdering Philip Finnegan and burying him in a shallow grave in 2016

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Philip Finnegan's body found in shallow grave

Philip Finnegan's body found in shallow grave

Philip Finnegan's body found in shallow grave

Murder accused Stephen Penrose told gardai that he heard his missing friend, whose body was later found in a shallow grave, was “sitting in Jamaica eating a Big Mac,” a jury has heard.

The accused also told gardai that he heard the victim had been "chopped up" in the Dublin mountains.

Mr Penrose (38), of Newtown Court, Malahide Road, Coolock, Dublin 17, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Philip Finnegan (24) at Rahin Woods, Rahin, Edenderry, Co Kildare on August 10, 2016.

The trial has heard that Mr Finnegan went missing before his decapitated body was found buried in a shallow grave in a Kildare woods. The accused man, who was representing himself in the trial, has hired new lawyers but has declined to continue attending his trial.

Evidence has been given that Mr Penrose's phone connected to a cell site close to the area where the victim’s body was found.

Now-retired garda Mr Mick O'Brien told prosecution counsel, Mr Brendan Grehan SC, that he was involved in the investigation of Mr Finnegan, who was reported missing at Kevin Street Garda Station on August 11. The witness said he arrested Mr Penrose at an apartment in Malahide on August 31 for withholding information in relation to a serious assault on Mr Finnegan.

In his first of ten interviews with gardai on August 31 at Kilmainham Garda Station, Mr Penrose began by saying that he knew nothing about what happened to his friend Mr Finnegan. "I want nothing more than for his mother to know I had nothing to do with what happened," he said.

The accused told detectives that Mr Finnegan informed him that he had previously got hit with a lump hammer and certain individuals had broken into his house and pepper sprayed his mother, Angela Finnegan.

The accused said that Mr Finnegan was with him all day on August 10 and was wearing a white bulletproof vest. Mr Penrose went on to say there were "rumours all over the place saying I murdered him".

Referring to Mr Finnegan's mother, Angela Finnegan, the accused continued: "She is saying I abducted him, she knows I've f**k all to do with it. I'd like to see it cleared up for her."

Describing an alleged incident in Kilcock on August 10 to gardai, Mr Penrose said he had taken the turn off for Kilcock and "they were just right there, pulled in on the right".

He said Mr Finnegan ran over to the other car to meet someone. "Then a fella walked over towards me, I can't remember if I opened my door. The minute he came over he swung a knife towards me. I think I went to block it. I just drove, as I was driving I saw two people scuffling with Phillip. I just kept driving. I pulled into a petrol station to get petrol and my arm just started pulsing blood. [sic]"

The accused told gardai in his second interview that he had post-traumatic stress and could not remember anything else. "I was stabbed in the arm, it hit an artery, I panicked. I've told the truth, it was a hectic few days... I got stabbed and the whole day is a blur," he said.

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At one stage, Mr Penrose said he "had enough" of questioning and would be found "swinging from a rope".

When asked by detectives about the fight, Mr Penrose said he had heard that Mr Finnegan was "chopped up" in the Dublin mountains. "I didn't go near Phillip, I didn't touch Phillip," he added.

Gardai put it to the accused that he was the last person to see Mr Finnegan being attacked but was telling them that he heard that the deceased was chopped up in the Dublin mountains. "I've heard bullshit, I've heard ten different things. I don't know if they are true. Some people say black, some say white, I don't fucking know. I heard all sorts of things, people on James Street are saying it is me. I heard he is sitting in Jamaica eating a Big Mac," he replied.

The accused went on to tell gardai that he did not know where Mr Finnegan was, that there were "cameras everywhere" and he had already accounted for where he was.

When asked what he felt had happened to Mr Finnegan, Mr Penrose said: "I don't know. I knew he was involved with feuds. I looked for a split second and saw two people scuffling with him then someone came over and stabbed me. I saw someone with a bat or an arm."

The trial continues this afternoon before Mr Justice Alexander Owens and the 12 jurors.

In his opening address, prosecuting barrister, Mr Grehan, said Mr Finnegan's decapitated body was found buried in a shallow grave in a Kildare woods. Counsel said Mr Finnegan had "certain troubles in the past" and had taken to wearing a protective vest.

The lawyer also told the jury in his opening address that attempts had been made to cut up and burn the body of Mr Finnegan, who had been missing for almost a month and who had met a "gruesome death".

Significantly, the barrister said, the jury will hear evidence that a bloodied glove was found in the woods which was a DNA match to the accused man Mr Penrose.

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