Assault accused | 

Trial of Irishman charged with stabbing in Australia hears he was ‘dealing drugs for victim’

Convicted killer Patrick Farrell, from Kildare, was also charged for alleged involvement in the attack

Patrick Earle

Patrick Earle

Patrick Farrell

Dubliner Katie Aileen Murtagh

Oliver Solan was found in a hallway of the unit block with a serious stab wound and a partially severed left ear. Picture: 7 News

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

An Irishman has gone on trial in Australia for a horror knife attack during which a man he was allegedly dealing drugs for had his ear severed.

Patrick Earle from Kilkenny, allegedly carried out the knife attack on Oliver Solan who was found with serious injuries, including a punctured spleen and partially severed left ear, in Sydney on August 29, 2020.

Last month, convicted killer Patrick Farrell, from Kildare, and another man pleaded guilty pleaded guilty to their roles in the attack at an apartment block in Randwick.

Last summer Dubliner Katie Aileen Murtagh, Earle’s then girlfriend, was released on bail after she was charged with aiding or abetting of assault.

During Earle’s trial this week for the alleged attack on Oliver Solan, a court was told that Earle allegedly worked dealing cannabis with the victim.

Earle has pleaded not guilty to charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and supplying a commercial amount of the prohibited drug cannabis.

He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of supplying cannabis under a commercial amount.

A jury trial heard on the night of the alleged stabbing, Earle and Mr Solan had been drinking and doing cocaine together at the unit after returning from the Coogee Pavilion.

Crown prosecutor Deone Provera told the court that Earle had begun working for Mr Solan – who also went by the alias “Max” – selling cannabis around April 2020, initially as a delivery driver.

Oliver Solan was found in a hallway of the unit block with a serious stab wound and a partially severed left ear. Picture: 7 News

According to the Crown case, Mr Earle became more involved in the business, taking on a role described as “admin”, in which he would take orders via an encrypted iPhone app and manage a roster of drivers and other admin people.

Customers could view a Facebook account featuring the various strains and amounts available, the court heard.

It is alleged Mr Earle also began sourcing cannabis from Mr Solan at “worker’s prices” and selling to customers of his own.

Mr Provera said on the night of the alleged stabbing, a fight broke out between Earle and Mr Solan, during which the Irishman was hurt.

Defence barrister Josh Brock told the court Solan’s attack on Earle was “serious and vicious” and said it left holes in the walls of the apartment and Mr Earle with injuries including a large gash on his head and a dislocated elbow.

Mr Provera said Earle then contacted friend John Dunlea, who was at a nearby unit along with Patrick Farrell and Christopher Morrison, to render assistance to handle Mr Solan.

All three of the men, who are also Irish, attended the unit where Mr Solan was standing on the balcony, the court heard.

Mr Provera told the court Mr Solan attempted to escape the unit by running through the men but was unable and was thrown to the floor.

He was then kicked and punched by the men and Mr Earle allegedly went to the kitchen to retrieve a knife.

Mr Earle is accused of then stabbing Mr Solan in the torso with the knife, creating a six centimetre wound which pierced his spleen and part of his lung, Mr Provera said.

The three other Irishmen and Mr Earle all then allegedly left the apartment.

Neighbours called for help and paramedics arrived to find Mr Solan collapsed in a hallway with serious injuries.

He was treated at the scene before being moved to St Vincent’s Hospital, where part of his spleen was removed.

Patrick Farrell

Mr Provera told the court Mr Solan later left Australia and is believed to be in the United Kingdom. He will not provide evidence in the trial.

While recovering in hospital, he told investigators he had no recollection of the alleged bashing.

Mr Provera told the court, Mr Earle was arrested in the vicinity of the unit block, near which police also located a Louis Vuitton bag.

In the bag was a drug ledger with records of cannabis supply over a period of roughly two months, along with Mr Earle’s passport and drivers licence, the court heard.

Prosecutors allege the records show Mr Earle was party to supplying over 80kg of cannabis.

A commercial quantity of cannabis in NSW is considered to be more than 25kg.

Defence lawyer Josh Brock said Mr Earle had become associated with Mr Solan through his use of cannabis and cocaine and had began to sell the drugs to fund his own habits.

“He was making poor choices in terms of using drugs such as cocaine and cannabis,” Mr Brock said.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, given those poor choices, he made more poor choices.”

In September, convicted killer Patrick Farrell and another Irishman pleaded guilty to their role in the brutal attack.

Farrell and John Dunlea both pleaded guilty to the charge of cause grievous bodily harm in company while being reckless as to causing actual bodily harm.

They appeared from prison via video link in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Friday.

Police claimed Farrell was called to the apartment block by a group of friends who had become involved in an altercation with Mr Solan.

Farrell arrived at the apartment complex about 8.30pm and was let in by one of the friends.

Police say Mr Solan was then stabbed multiple times before Farrell fled the building.

A sentence hearing date for Farrell and Dunlea has been set for December 12.

It took police months and multiple arrest warrants to track down Farrell, who has remained in custody on remand since his arrest in 2020.

Patrick Farrell is a convicted killer who lied on his visa application to get into Australia.

He served a three-and-a-half-year sentence in 2013 for an assault that killed 20-year-old student Andrew Dolan.

The student’s parents told the Sunday World last year that the Irish legal system should have stopped Farrell from leaving the country.

"It's very apparent no lessons have been learned and it's utterly appalling that another family and relations of people have suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of these assaults,” he said.

Farrell also plead guilty to knocking a 56-year-old man unconscious at a beer garden in November 2021, a year after the stabbing attack of Oliver Solan.

He went on the run for three weeks following the assault of Solan before police caught him.

Patrick Earle’s girlfriend Katie Aileen Murtagh had been drinking with Earle and Solan when the fight broke out and was accused of aiding or abetting the assault.

Dubliner Katie Aileen Murtagh

Police alleged that Murtagh was aware of what would happen when she invited and let her boyfriend's backup group of friends inside their apartment.

The 26-year-old was first released on bail in June 2021 after posting a $100,000 surety that she wouldn't flee the country.

The trial of Patrick Earle continues.

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