A Kent man last night received a life sentence after being found guilty of the murder of his friend, Galway man Cathal Hughes.
Paul Prendergast, of Margate Road, Ramsgate has been told by a judge at Maidstone Crown Court he must serve 23 years before he is eligible for parole.
Prendergast denied murdering Cathal Hughes, of Mayers Road in Deal, in August last year. Mr Hughes was formerly from Corrib Park, in Newcastle, Galway.
The 34-year-old was found in a bedroom at Prendergast’s rented home. His throat had been cut. During the post-mortem examination, a six-inch blade was retrieved from Mr Hughes’s neck.
At 6.05am on Sunday, August 16 last year, police received a call from Prendergast reporting a murder at his Ramsgate address. Mr Hughes had been staying there.
Prendergast initially told police he thought Mr Hughes had been killed by a group of drug-dealers. That then changed to his having acted in self-defence.
Weapons, including knives and a machete, were found in a skip and a river.
Prendergast was arrested and later charged with murder.
A 20-year-old woman and 16-year-old boy arrested at the same time on suspicion of murder were released without charge.
Det Insp Kenny Ingram, from Kent Police’s Major Crime department which investigated the death, said: “These were two men who counted one another as friends and yet one died with horrific injuries at the hands of the other, who is now serving a life sentence.
“Only Paul Prendergast knows the truth about what happened between him and Cathal Hughes at that moment in time in August last year.
“It is unfortunate he did not see fit to admit his crime. However, we are satisfied with today’s result at court and hope Mr Hughes’s family can now move forward with their lives.”
Mr Hughes’s family have released the following statement to the press:
“Cathal’s memory will always be cherished by those who knew and loved him.
“His wit, his humour, his caring nature, his love of family and the joy that he brought to our lives will be with us always.
“Killed at 34 years old, we grieve for Cathal’s life unlived and the many experiences forever denied to him.
“Marriage, children and all of life’s beauty will no longer be his. We mourn for Christmases to come without him.
“No words can describe the trauma that has been inflicted on our family by the cowardly, barbaric and merciless manner in which Cathal was taken from this world.
“What was inflicted upon our Cathal at the hands of Paul Prendergast, this 45-year-old man, is, to us, utterly beyond belief and the act positively subhuman.
“The trial evidence has revealed to us the details of Cathal’s horrible last moments and these thoughts and images will haunt us all the days of our lives.
“Murdering Cathal in this manner did not seem to be enough for Mr Prendergast as he has also sought, at every possible opportunity, to assassinate Cathal’s name, character and memory with persistent lies and deceptions throughout.
“With nothing to lose, it seems, a desperate Paul Prendergast has woven a fantastical web of deceit and has ensured that Cathal’s family and friends were spared no pain or indecency during this trial.
“The lack of any form of remorse from Prendergast is, at the very least, chilling.
“The person responsible for this act cannot and must not be allowed to live among decent people and we rely on the English justice system to ensure that no other person can suffer this same grotesque fate at the butchering hands of that evil man.
“We would sincerely like to thank the authorities, especially Kent Police’s Major Crime investigation team, for their tireless work throughout the lengthy investigation and trial process.
“We are especially grateful to DI Kenny Ingram and DC Theo Perez for the support and kindness they have shown to the family in this, our gravest hour.
“We wish to extend our thanks to Mr Alcock and Mr Moore, acting on behalf of the Crown, and empathise with them, the judge and the jury who have also had to bear an intimate knowledge of the terrible events of that night in August 2009.
“From the bottom of our hearts we thank all of those who have shown us support, both at home in Ireland and in England.
“We thank the many friends he had in England that loved him dearly and who have been with us in thought, word and deed since Cathal’s death.
“We acknowledge their hurt and suffering and appreciate their love for him.
“To know so many loved and cared for him and the many lives he touched while away from his homeland brings us strength.
“We reserve special thanks to our cousins who have travelled with us in solidarity, for the deep love they have always had for Cathal and for being united with us in grief through all.
“Our family must now attempt to regain some sense of normality in our lives after being put through this agonising ordeal, and to honour Cathal’s memory through our own lives, well lived,” they concluded.