A man who inflicted one fatal stab wound on a young Glennamaddy man has been found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
After a six-day trial held at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Galway a jury returned a 10/2 majority verdict shortly before 4pm yesterday after deliberating for more than three and half hours.
At the start of the trial Pat Doherty (46 ) of Clooncon West, Glennamaddy, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of 20-year-old Francis Fahy at The Square, Gleenamaddy, in the early hours of December 15, 2008. A plea of guilty to manslaughter was not accepted by the prosecution. He also pleaded guilty to assaulting Gerard Costello causing him harm on the same date.
The jury had heard that Doherty, a native of Glasgow, had been drinking at Harte’s Corner House when there was some exchange between him and Mr Costello (30 ). Doherty then drove home, picked up a long-bladed kitchen knife, returned to the pub, and made his way to Mr Costello and Mr Fahy, who were waiting for a taxi. Doherty then stabbed Mr Fahy once in the back with the knife and stabbed Mr Costello six times. Mr Fahy, from O’Keeffe Park, Glenamaddy, was taken to Roscommon County Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 2.30am.
On the second day of the trial Mr Costello denied taunting the accused man and instigating the stabbing incident which resulted in the death of his young friend. However, pub proprietor Catherine Harte had said in her statement that she had seen Mr Costello get a drink at the bar, lean in, and whisper in Doherty’s ear. Mr Bernard Madden SC, defending, put it to Mr Costello that this had happened at least four times and that Doherty had got increasingly agitated by crude comments made about his wife and daughters.
Anne Hughes gave evidence that she had overheard Doherty mumbling to himself and shouting: “I’m not afraid of no f**king man” and “I’m going to kill some f**king man tonight.”
Regarding the ensuing incident witnesses had stated that Doherty had come towards the deceased man and Mr Costello but was pushed to the ground. When Doherty got up he began waving the knife around. Niall Miskell spoke of how Doherty “got the knife and swung it over his [Francis’] head, over his shoulder, and stuck it into his back”.
Giving evidence last Tuesday, State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy said the injury on the deceased had been a stab wound on the back which went through the rib cage and into the lung where the knife had sliced through the main pulmonary artery resulting in “immediate catastrophic blood loss”. The court also heard that in excess of two litres of blood had built up in the chest cavity and in the airways, and the right lung had also collapsed. There was no evidence of defensive wounds or a prolonged assault.
Detective Sgt Michael O’Driscoll said that while he collected Doherty’s clothing for forensic examination the only thing that Doherty said was: “Why couldn’t they leave me alone.” However, he gave no reply when charged.
After the jury’s verdict was read out to the court Det Sgt O’Driscoll said that Doherty, born in Glasgow, had returned to Ireland with his wife 15 years ago. He has two previous convictions which include a six month sentence imposed in February 1998 for an offence under Section 17(1 ) of the Domestic Violence Act, and a fine in October 1997 for public order offence.
Mr Justice Paul Carney remanded Doherty into custody to await sentencing at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin on November 2.