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State drops car-jacking charges against double killer Stephen Penrose

Penrose is currently serving a life sentence handed down last December for the murder of Philip Finnegan

Stephen Penrose

Murder victim Philip Finnegan

Penrose will be in prison until at least 2040 for the murder of Philip Finnegan whose body was found in Rahin Woods© Collins

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

Double Killer Stephen Penrose has had car-jacking charges against him dropped — five years after he was alleged to have seized a vehicle by force.

Penrose is currently serving a life sentence handed down last December for the murder of Philip Finnegan, whose decapitated remains were found in a shallow grave

Penrose, of Newtown Court, Malahide Road, Coolock, Dublin, was found guilty by unanimous jury verdict of murdering Mr Finnegan (24) at Rahin Woods, Rahin, Edenderry, Co. Kildare on August 10, 2016.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charge.

It was Penrose’s second time to stand trial for murder.

In 2010, a Central Criminal Court jury found the killer not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter after he admitted stabbing David Sharkey (28) to death in Navan following a row over drugs and then putting the victim’s body in the boot of a car.

He was sentenced to nine years in prison for that offence.

Last week, Penrose appeared before Portlaoise District Court via video link from Mountjoy Prison.

The court heard he faced a number of charges dating back to May 15, 2017.

On that date, Penrose had been alleged to have unlawfully seized a vehicle at Canal Road in Portarlington, Co Laois, using intimidation or force.

Murder victim Philip Finnegan

On the same date, it was alleged that he had carried out a robbery at the same location and furthermore that he had produced a screwdriver capable of inflicting serious injury.

A shaven headed Penrose, who was holding a folder on his lap in a video conferencing room in the prison, appeared to not initially hear when the State announced it was dropping the charges.

“In relation to this matter, the DPP is entering a nolle prosequi,” the court was informed.

This means the State accepted it did not have sufficient evidence to continue in bringing the matter to trial.

Rising from his seat after being told his case had been dealt with, Penrose inquired about whether a trial date had been set, only told be told the matter would not be proceeding.

Penrose has remained in custody continuously since his arrest two days after the alleged car-jacking incident.

Penrose will be in prison until at least 2040 for the murder of Philip Finnegan whose body was found in Rahin Woods© Collins

In addition to convictions for murder and manslaughter, Penrose has others for possession of two shotguns and ammunition, a hit-and-run offence, three assaults on three prison officers and threatening to kill or cause serious harm to members of the prison service.

His current life sentence for the murder of Philip Finnegan is likely to mean he will remain in custody until 2040 at the earliest.

Last November, 12 jurors unanimously rejected Penrose’s defence that he had last seen Mr Finnegan being stabbed in the back during an attack by a group of men at “a forest” or “close to a wood”, having arranged to collect firearms from them.

The jury accepted the prosecution’s case that Mr Finnegan had met “a gruesome death” at the hands of Penrose and attempts had been made to cut up and burn the victim’s body.

The trial heard Mr Finnegan was missing for just over three weeks before a dog walker found his “skeletonised” remains buried in Rahin Woods on September 2, 2016.

The identity of the father-of-four was confirmed by fingerprint after skin that had “slipped away” from a finger was recovered from the soil of the gravesite.


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