unprovoked attack | 

Wife of stag do murder victim Vincent Parsons thought she would ‘die of a broken heart’

Philip Disney and Sean Carlyle were given mandatory life sentences this morning

Vincent Parsons' wife Claire, his sister Marian and mum Clare pictured outside Dublin central criminal court

Vincent Parsons

Vincent Parsons' family and friends pictured outside Dublin Central Criminal Court

Photograph of Vincent Parsons pictured outside Dublin central criminal court this afternoon following sentence hearing… Pic Collins Courts

Sean Carlyle

Philip Disney from Donomore Crescent Tallaght arriving at the CCJ (File pic)

Paul NeilanSunday World

The wife of a dad of two who was beaten to death while he was on a stag night has told the Central Criminal Court of the grief of feeling how her husband "died in fear" and how she believed she would "die of a broken heart".

After Mr Justice Kerida Naidoo pronounced the mandatory life sentence on Philip Disney and Sean Carlyle this morning,

Carlyle baited the grieving family of Vincent Parsons and their supporters by smirking and insulting them before being led away by gardaí.

Thirty-four-year-old Mr Parsons was murdered by the two Dublin men after the trial heard he had too much to drink at a stag do, became "messy" and irritated Disney.

Philip Disney (27) of Donomore Crescent, Tallaght and Sean Carlyle (30), with an address at Donomore Avenue in the West Dublin suburb, had denied murdering Mr Parsons at Killinarden Way, near the Killinarden Inn in Tallaght, on the night of August 24, 2019.

Mr Parsons died two days later in Tallaght hospital.

However, last month a jury of six men and six women arrived at their unanimous guilty verdict after four hours and 48 minutes of their deliberations over two days.

Vincent Parsons

The trial heard that after an altercation, Disney said something to Mr Parsons causing him to run from the pub but the pair followed the deceased in a van and fatally assaulted him on a nearby green area.

Today at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Parson's wife, Clare, read from her victim impact statement that her husband was her "best friend, soul mate and our provider".

Mrs Parsons said that she had never seen her husband in an altercation and that he saw the good in life and was willing to help "a friend, a colleague or neighbour".

Mrs Parsons said that when she received the call about the attack on Vincent, she was "in denial" that it was him.

"I couldn't understand," she said. "I was in denial it was him until I arrived and found out it was true.

"I had to wait for hours to get to see him and that image will haunt me for the rest of my life."

Sean Carlyle

Mrs Parsons said her and their children's world had "fallen apart" since Vincent's death.

"Coming to court was like living the nightmare over again. But I stayed strong. I promised my husband I would fight for him and I did.

"But now after the trial, the feeling that I have is that my husband just didn't die, he died in fear," she said.

"We had to wait 10 days for this body to be released back to us - they were the hardest days for me.

"I just wanted him back so I could see him again.

"That was the longest time I ever went without seeing him in my life. At the age of 35,

"I had to bury my husband, pick a plot in a grave and choose a coffin. It was too much to deal with at that age.

"Days turned into weeks, struggling to live without him. Our world fell apart.

Vincent Parsons' family and friends pictured outside Dublin Central Criminal Court

"For me, life became scary and lonely. I was in and out of hospital. I actually thought I was going to die with a broken heart. We had to keep going to get justice," she said.

Mr Parsons' sister, Marian, read from her own statement on behalf of the family and described her brother as a "hard-working family man, first and foremost".

She said "everything Vincent did was for Clare, Jade and Gerard. His family was his absolute world.

"He was a great brother and son; always there when we needed him. He was a wonderful uncle to all of his nieces and nephews and treated them like they were his own.

"He was a fun uncle because he was just a big kid at heart."

"Vincent was a popular, easy-going funny guy who enjoyed a joke and a laugh. Vincent was a genuine soul with a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone. He was never aggressive or angry - it wasn't in his nature.

"This is why it is so hard for us to believe that anyone could do this to him," she said.

She said the image of Mr Parsons in hospital would "haunt us all for the rest of our lives".

"He was unrecognisable and he was surrounded by machines and tubes everywhere. He had no marks anywhere else on his body.

"All the damage was to his face and head. How could anyone do this to another human being?" she asked.

She said the family has sleepless nights over the images of Mr Parsons being "hunted down" to "a senseless act of savagery, carried out by the most unremorseful people".

Detective Garda Conor Harrison told the court that Carlyle had 27 previous convictions, including a three-year sentence for violent disorder in a pub, production of an article during the course of a dispute and dangerous driving.

The detective said Disney had two previous convictions for road traffic offences.

Mr Justice Kerida Naidoo said Mr Parsons died after a 48-second "intensely violent assault, which was not spontaneous" and that he was the victim of a "pitiless beating" while offering no resistance.

He said neither Carlyle, who wore a headband and smiled throughout the hearing, nor Parsons showed "human compassion or decency".

He said the pair took Mr Parsons' watch after the attack, "leaving him for dead".

Speaking on the steps of the court after the life sentences were handed down, Clare Parsons, flanked by family members, thanked their legal team, gardaí, the jury and the public who came forward.

She said: "We will never get our Vincent back but today justice was served. He was soft, kind, happy and a hard-working family man."

Mrs Parsons said she was "used" to the behaviour of the two men during the trial "who sat there sniggering and laughing".

Mrs Parsons said she did not want to say what she wanted to about Disney and Carlyle but did say the pair were "murderers".

She added that she had her doubts about the outcome of the trial but was now "overwhelmed" by the conviction.

During the trial, Lorcan Staines SC, for the prosecution, told the court the deceased had been drinking for several hours at a friend's stag do when he became "messy", started hugging people and began to irritate others in the Killinarden Inn before coming to the attention of Disney.

CCTV played for the jury showed that there were words between them and, counsel said, Disney became irritated and agitated and could be seen raising his arm and pointing at Mr Parsons before saying something to him.

Philip Disney from Donomore Crescent Tallaght arriving at the CCJ (File pic)

CCTV showed Mr Parsons leaving the pub after that interaction and then, once outside, running from the pub.

Counsel said: "Whatever it was that was said, it caused Vincent Parsons to run.

He immediately left the pub out the front door and ran left and away from the pub." Mr Staines told the jury that Mr Parsons ran "as if his life depended on it".

Counsel told the jury that the two men got into a van and caught up with Mr Parsons and beat him to death on a green area at Killinarden Way.

Mr Staines had told the jury that the two accused had "acted together each and every step of the way in common design" before and after the killing, which CCTV evidence showed.

The prosecution's case was that the two accused left the pub within minutes of Mr Parsons' departure, got into a black van and then got out of the van at the nearby green area where the two beat Mr Parsons to death.

Just 48 seconds after stopping at the green area, they got back into the van and drove towards Carlyle's home, footage showed.

The State's case was that Carlyle changed his clothes and then left the van "off site" at a nearby housing estate.

Both men then got a lift back to the pub, where they could be seen returning on CCTV about 30-to-35 minutes after they had left to manufacture an alibi that they never left.

A watch belonging to Mr Parsons, which was a gift from his daughter with the inscription, "To Dad, love Jade, Xmas 2011", was found in the van that the prosecution alleged belonged to Carlyle.

However, no DNA profile could be generated from the watch. Forensics found the deceased's blood was on a pair of shorts that Carlyle was wearing when gardai entered his house with a warrant less than seven hours after the alleged murder.

It was the State's case that the two accused were part of a "joint enterprise" to murder Mr Parsons.

A pathologist told the court that Mr Parsons's cause of death was brain damage due to a shortage of blood flow as a result of a heart attack, which was in turn caused by severe facial injuries and the inhalation of blood.

Mr Parson's brother, David, who was in the pub on the night, told the court that Vincent: "would never start a fight with anyone.

He could be a messy drunk but was never aggressive. There's not a bad bone in his body."

he trial, which began on December 5, heard that Mr Parsons was at a stag do in the Killinarden Inn and had been drinking from 3pm that afternoon.

CCTV showed Carlyle entering the pub at about 7.15pm and starting a conversation with Disney.

The two accused were sitting on a raised internal area that overlooks the rest of the pub, close to where Mr Parsons was drinking. As the evening progressed Mr Parsons had too much to drink, "got a little messy" and began to irritate other patrons of the pub, prosecution counsel said.

Mr Staines said: "At first everything seems to be fairly amicable... and Philip Disney and Vincent Parsons shake hands and they seem to engage in a little bit of a conversation." A short time after that, counsel said Disney became "agitated and there's an interaction between Philip Disney and Vincent Parsons."

Mr Staines said Disney "raises his arm and points his finger in the direction of Vincent Parsons and moves towards Vincent Parsons and their heads come into close proximity and clearly something is said between them."

Mr Parsons could be seen on CCTV leaving the pub without his brother, cousins or friends who were all present at the time. After Mr Parsons ran away from the pub, the two accused walked back to the raised area but Disney remained standing and appeared to be agitated. Disney left through the same door that Mr Parsons had left, about 40 seconds after the victim. CCTV footage also showed Disney and Carlyle getting out of the van at the scene of Mr Parson's death and returning to it 48 seconds later before later returning to the Killinarden Inn. At 6am the following day, gardai were at Carlyle's home with a search warrant. Carlyle was in a cabin at the back of the house where he was in bed wearing sports leisure clothing. They seized the clothes and following analysis the blood of Mr Parsons was found on the front right leg of the shorts.

The following day gardai searched Disney's home and he gave them what he said were the clothes he was wearing the previous night, but the State had argued were different clothes.

Chief State Pathologist Linda Mulligan told Mr Staines that Mr Parsons was without a pulse on admission to the Emergency Department and was given adrenaline, after which his heartbeat returned.

However, Dr Mulligan said blood was obstructing Mr Parsons airways and that the level of oxygen in his system was between 80-90 per cent.

She said that, when admitted to hospital at 11.30pm, he had blood coming from his nose and ears.

Dr Mulligan said that Mr Parsons became "gravely ill" and suffered cardiac arrest before being pronounced dead at 7.20pm on August 26, 2019.

The pathologist said Mr Parsons had cocaine and alcohol in his system but that these were not contributory factors in his death, though he would have been "highly intoxicated" at the time.

She gave her cause of death as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, which she said was a lack of oxygen to the brain due to the significant internal bleeding and cardiac arrest caused by blunt force trauma.

Dr Sibéal Waldron, of Forensic Science Ireland, gave evidence that a drop of blood on the pair of shorts belonging to Mr Carlyle generated a DNA profile of a male that matched Mr Parson's DNA. She said the odds on the DNA profile from the blood matching anyone else's was "one-thousand million to one".

Dominic McGinn SC, for Carlyle, had argued there was a "hole in the middle" of the prosecution's case in that the jury could not be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt what exactly happened on the night as it was not captured on CCTV nor seen by eye-witnesses.

Mr McGinn said a drop of Mr Parsons' blood found on Carlyle's shorts could not have been from the night in question as Carlyle did not change his shorts on the night and could be seen on CCTV wearing a different pair in the pub.

Bernard Condon SC, for Disney, said there was a "key missing ingredient" from the prosecution's case regarding the CCTV from the pub not having sound therefore failing to prove any threat had been made to Mr Parsons.

Mr Condon said the State had also failed to show that any agreement existed between Disney and Carlyle to cause serious injury or kill Mr Parsons before his death.

Mr Condon said there were three-to-four minutes from the time Mr Parsons left the pub and the two accused leaving the pub car park in the van, which was, he said, "inconsistent" with any targeting of Mr Parsons.

Counsel said it would be "extraordinary" for the two men to return to the pub in the hope that it would create an impression that they never left, due to the amount of people present inside the pub, in the car park and the presence of CCTV.

Mr Condon said his client did not change his clothes on the night and that this was inconsistent with someone who was just exposed to a large amount of blood.

In his closing speech, Mr Staines told the jury that inference and circumstantial evidence were not enough on their own to convict someone of a crime but if all the evidence was accumulated it would create the "links in a chain required to prove the principal facts to be established".

"In this case, what it boils down to is coincidence, and ultimately you ladies and gentlemen, your tolerance for coincidence. How many little coincidences are required before you can say that you are satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that this is not coincidence or that it would be an affront to common sense to put it down to coincidence," he said.

***SUMMARY ENDS***

***VICTIM IMPACT IN FULL***

Clare Parsons (Vincent's wife), Victim Impact Statement

Every morning when I wake up there's not a day I don't think about my husband. Every morning. When I wake up I have to remember to myself that Vincent's not here to have breakfast with us and no longer have to think I will need to buy Weeto's - his favourite cereal - in my shopping each week.

My heart skips a beat when I pass them on the shelf. I pray every day that he doesn't miss me as much as I miss him.

Me and Vincent met when we were just 14 years old and from that day we were never apart. We married in 2017 - two short years as husband and wife. Before this tragedy happened, he was my best friend, my soul-mate and our provider. He was loved so much. He was a great father and husband. He loved the outdoors and going for walks up Bray Hill and along the beach. What's still confusing is that I have never seen my husband in an altercation or fight in all the years I've known him - but I have seen him try to walk away and that's the person I know. He was a soft, gentle man.

He saw the good in everyone and was always willing to help a friend, colleague or neighbour whenever he could. He loved his job as a fully-qualified, sheet-metal worker and he was great at his job.

When I got that phone call on 24 August, 2019, to say he was found badly beaten and in critical condition, I couldn't understand. I was in denial that it was him until I arrived and found out it was true. I had to wait for hours to get to see him and that image will haunt me for the rest of my life. The two days sitting beside his bedside felt like weeks; hoping and praying that he would pull through. But they said they had to turn the machine off on 26 August, 2019, as there was nothing more they could do for him.

My world fell apart. I begged them to give him more time but then the hardest part, after I said my goodbye, was to tell my children that daddy had gone to heaven and then hear my daughter's screams and see my son's little face, crying, was the worst day of my life.

Not only did I have to live my life without Vincent, I was heartbroken for my kids, that he wouldn't be here to see them growing up. He'd miss all the special days: birthdays, xmas, graduations and just not being there for them when they needed him. We are all lost without him.

We had to wait 10 days for this body to be released back to us - they were the hardest days for me. I just wanted him back so I could see him again. That was the longest time I ever went without seeing him in my life. At the age of 35, I had to bury my husband, pick a plot in a grave and choose a coffin. It was too much to deal with at that age. Days turned into weeks, struggling to live without him. Our world fell apart.

All three of us needed to start counselling to help with our grief, trauma and anger. My son was four; he was such a happy little lad and loved life but went turning into an angry boy - his behaviour changed really quickly. My oldest - Jade - just shut down to the world. She couldn't understand how her dad goes out and never gets to come home. We all still attend counselling.

For me, life became scary and lonely. I was in and out of hospital. I actually thought I was going to die with a broken heart. Financial worries kicked in and I was stressing about how I could manage all my bills without him and the rent on our house. I had to drop hours in work as I was living with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress. I couldn't get to work full-time without taking medication everyday to function and took sleeping tablets to get a few hours' sleep and still with all of my medication the heartache didn't end there. We had to keep going to get justice. Coming to court was like living the nightmare over again. But I stayed strong. I promised my husband I would fight for him and I did. But now, after the trial, the feeling that I have is that my husband didn't just die, he died in fear. You will be missed forever, Vincent. Sincerely, Clare, Jade and Gerard Parsons.


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