Trial latest Murder accused told gardai he put one hand on partner's neck and other over her mouth
A murder 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, the Central Criminal Court has heard.
"I was angry. I just wanted her to go asleep and stop," Sean Nolan told gardai. He insisted to gardai that he never set out with an intention to kill his partner and it was accidental if he had caused her death, the jury also heard.
The 36-year-old told gardai that he knew his girlfriend Amanda Carroll was dead when he woke up in her bed the following morning and "just panicked" before he ran out of the apartment.
The trial has already heard evidence 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 jurors spent today listening to the accused's garda interviews in the trial of Mr Nolan, who is charged with murdering Ms Carroll in her Dublin apartment two years ago.
Mr Nolan, with an address at Ashington Crescent, Navan Road in Dublin has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Ms Carroll (33) at Homestead Court, Quarry Road, Cabra, Dublin 7 on October 21, 2018.
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 and Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, has told the jury that Ms Carroll's death could not have occurred without asphyxia but the drugs consumed had an added effect.
Giving evidence today, Detective Sergeant Enda O'Sullivan told prosecution counsel Shane Costelloe SC that four interviews were conducted with Mr Nolan at Mountjoy Garda Station on October 21 and 22, 2018.
Detectives suggested to Mr Nolan that the couple had a tempestuous relationship and the accused said that this was not the case all of the time and it was just when his girlfriend had drink taken.
The defendant said the pair would argue over "silly things" and if Ms Carroll drank they would argue about her ex-boyfriend, who was the father of her youngest child.
Mr Nolan said he and Ms Carroll had started drinking about 11am on the previous day and they both had taken Zimovane and "D5's" [Olanzapine].
The defendant said he would not have got Ms Carroll's name tattooed on his hand if he didn't love her. Mr Nolan told detectives that the mother-of-two also had his name tattooed on her chest.
The accused said his partner had been very drunk and "out of it" on the previous night. He said he had to "drag her" from the taxi to her apartment after they had been out drinking for the day.
Mr Nolan said that the couple had an argument in Ms Carroll's bed and she began to punch and push him.
He said he had put one hand over her neck and the other over her mouth to stop her but had not done it for long. "I wouldn't have gone asleep if I thought I'd killed her or I thought she was seriously injured," he continued.
The accused said he tried to wake his girlfriend up the next morning but her hands were locked together like rigor mortis had set in, her lips were blue and her tongue was sticking out of her mouth.
"If it was me that done it [sic], it was accidental. I didn't set out to kill her," he told gardai.
Mr Nolan said he had ran out the door of the deceased's apartment earlier that day and later walked to Cabra Garda Station to see if there had been anything reported from Homestead Court. "I thought everything was OK in that split second as nothing had been reported," he explained.
When asked by detectives what he was thinking when he felt that Ms Carroll's body was cold that morning, Mr Nolan replied: "I don't know. I was thinking she was dead. I was doing my best to wake her and kept shaking her. I knew she was dead. I just panicked and ran."
The accused said he had tried to kill himself but could not build up the courage to do it. He also denied using anything other than his hands in the struggle with his girlfriend.
In his second interview, Mr Nolan said that Ms Carroll took almost a tray of Zimovane the previous day and he had taken two of these tablets. "The tablets and drink weren't mixing very well and she was getting sloppy. I was not as bad but I shouldn't have been driving," he said.
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. The accused man's bloods were taken as there was a concern he was drink driving or drug driving, the court heard.
The accused told gardai that he had met Ms Carroll on the Tinder app and their first date was on July 25. "We went out that night and I basically moved in then," he said, adding that he loved Ms Carroll and her two sons and they had loved him.
Describing the incident to gardai, Mr Nolan said he had put his girlfriend into bed, unlaced her boots, taken her jeans off and left her top on. Ms Carroll then began to call him by the name of her ex-boyfriend, he said. "She was calling me a prick and a scumbag and saying she never loved me. She was screaming at me and trying to hit me. I told you I put my hand over her mouth and one over her neck. She stopped and I just went to sleep," he explained.
Detectives asked Mr Nolan what had upset him the most from what his girlfriend had said to him that night. "Saying she didn't love me. I was angry. I just wanted her to go asleep and stop," he replied.
The accused said he was annoyed and he just wanted to stop Ms Carroll talking but he had never wanted to kill her. "She was scraping at my face and trying to stick her fingers in my eyes," he continued.
He told gardai that he had not applied that much force to Ms Carroll and would not have gone asleep if he had. "I was squeezing her neck a bit and holding her mouth. I don't think I was squeezing that hard," he said, adding that his partner had not made any noise at the time.
Mr Nolan pointed out that he had felt Ms Carroll's wrist for a pulse the following morning and put his head on her chest to see if her heart was beating.
In the third interview, the accused said the couple would argue about silly things like when Ms Carroll would tell him she was pregnant when she wasn't.
"Most would say we had a good relationship, we loved each other," he continued, adding that he told her everyday that he loved her and they planned to have a baby together.
Gardai put it to the accused that he could have held Ms Carroll for longer than he had thought. "It was 20 seconds at the most. I'm not that strong, she didn't put up much of a struggle. I wouldn't have gone to sleep as normal if I thought there was something wrong," he replied.
In the final interview, detectives asked the accused if it had angered him when Ms Carroll called him by her ex-boyfriend's name. The defendant said it had not and he just wanted to go asleep so that is why he had put one hand on her mouth and the other on her neck. "I never went out with the intention of killing her, just too much drink and drugs. I don't know what happened," he concluded.
In his opening address, Mr Costelloe said the deceased began a relationship with the accused about four months before her death. They had a "volatile" relationship, he said, "that seems to have arisen with excessive consumption of alcohol."
The barrister said that Mr Nolan's plea meant he accepted he killed Ms Carroll by putting one hand over her mouth and another around her neck when they were lying in bed that night.
Counsel added: "He did it in circumstances where the natural and probable consequences of that action was to deprive her of oxygen and thereby to cause serious injury or to kill her and it is the State's case that he did intend to kill or cause serious injury and he is guilty of murder."
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 has told the murder trial that he could see his mother was not breathing. "I could see her cheek was puffy and she was cold. I knew that I was not going to see her again," he said.
The prosecution has now closed its case and the trial will continue in front of Mr Justice Michael MacGrath tomorrow, when it is expected that the jury will hear closing speeches.