DPP v Murray


1983 WJSC-CCA 289


Hederman J.

Doyle J.

Keane J.

No 26/1982



Subject Headings:

EVIDENCE: admissibility


JUDGMENT delivered the 24th day of February 1983 by HEDERMAN J.


The applicant was tried in the Central Criminal Court before Gannon J. and a jury on the charge of having wilfully murdered one William Mannion. The trial lasted five days and resulted in his conviction and the passing upon him of the mandatory sentence penal servitude for life. The applicant has applied to this Court for leave to appeal from that conviction.


The appeal was solely concerned with the admissibility of certain verbal statements of an incriminating nature made by the applicant. There was no other evidence before the jury on which they could have convicted the appellant.


The dead man, William Mannion, lived at Ballynacorra ffrench, Newbridge, County Galway. He was found dead in the kitchen of his house by a Sergeant of the Gardai, who had been alerted by anxious neighbours, at about 11 p.m. on July 20th, 1981. He had been savagely and repeatedly stabbed with a knife.


The Gardai immediately began an intensive investigation, in the course of which they asked persons in the locality to assist them by giving answers to a questionnaire. The applicant, who is aged 17 and lives on an adjoining farm, was among those who answered the questionnaire. In the course of doing so, he gave an account of his movements on the night of the 19th/20th July. He said that he had been with his family until 10.30 p.m. when he left for a carnival at Ballinamore Bridge, arriving there about 10.55 p.m. He said that he then returned home, had tea with his mother and brother, left the house again at 11.30 p.m. and returned to the carnival. He said that he remained until the carnival was over and returned home at approximately 2.35 a.m. It was clear from other evidence that the fatal assault on Mr. Mannion had taken place at about 11 p.m. on the waning (c)f the 19th and, accordingly, this statement of his movements by the applicant was clearly exculpatory.


One week later, the applicant, at the request of the Gardaik went to Ballygar Garda Station. On this occasion, he made a written statement which he signed in the presence of two Gardai. This statement gave a more detailed account of his movements on the night of the 19th/2Oth and was also exculpatory. While in the Garda Station, the applicant's finger-prints were taken by a member of the Garda Technical bureau.


The following morning, the applicant was admitted to the County Hospital, Roscommon, in a coma, having taken an overdose of drugs. Later that day, when he was conscious, but talking in a rambling and incoherent manner, he said to a final year medical student, Miss Pauline Marran:

"I killed a man .... with a knife .... I didn't mean to kill him .... he was 71....."


The following morning, he told the consultant physician at the hospital, Dr. Patrick MeHugh, that he had taken the overdose because "the Guards are after me for a recent murder in Newbridge". He said that he wanted to kill himself. The doctor said that at that stage he was conscious and answering questions coherently although he was drowsy. He was also questioned in the hospital by Detective Sergeant Connolly, of the Criminal Investigation Bureau at Garda Headquarters, but the latter broke off the interview because the applicant appeared to be under sedation. His finger prints were, however, taken again while he was in hospital. He was discharged from the hospital on August 4th.


The statements made by the applicant to Miss Marran were excluded by the learned trial Judge, but those made to Dr.McHugh were admitted. There was no challenge to this ruling on the present application.


The applicant does not appear to have been interviewed by the Gardai again until September 2nd when he made the incriminating statements which were in issue at the trial and on this application. Shortly after noon on that day, D/Sergeant Connolly, accompanied by D/Sergeant Byrne, another member of the team of Detective Gardai from Dublin who were investigating the killing, met him coming from the bog near his home with a load of tucf in a donkey and cart.


Sergeant Connolly told him that they were investigating the death of William Mann ion. He asked the applicant would he bring if load of turf home and the reply was: "No, my mother is at home". He then asked him to come down to the Garda car, which was parked on the road and asked him would he get in. The applicant got in and Sergeant Connolly then said: "Where will we go to have a conversation and the applicant said: "Anywhere you like". D/Garda Byrne then unyoked the donkey from the cart and tied him up to a gorse bushf Garda Byrne said he did this, because he did not want to leave the donkey and cart there with a load of truf for an indefinite period. The two Gardai then drove out of the bog down to near the village of New bridge where they stopped at the side of the road. Garda Byrne was driving and the applicant was sitting in the back seat beside Sergeant Connolly. Sergeant Connolly asked him would he tell them where he was on the 19th July and he said:

"I told the truth about where I was in the forms that were filled out".


Sergeant Connolly then asked him to tell them again and the applicant said: "I left home about 10 o'clock and I cycled to Ballinamore Bridge." He said he stayed there for a while, then cycled back home and was home at 11.30 p.m. The Gardai then naked him to name people that ho had met on the journey to Ballinamore Bridge, while he was there, and on the return journey. The applicant could not name anyone. Sergeant Connolly then told him that he did not believe that he went to Ballinamore Bridge between 10 o'clock and 11.30 p.m. that a number of people known to the Gardai who were in Ballinamore Bridge at that particular time had been interviewed and none of them had seen him; and that Sergeant Keane from Ballygar was in Ballinamore Bridge around that time and had not seen the applicant. Both Gardai then asked the applicant to "tell the truth" and said they believed that "he was some way involved in the death of William Mannion". The applicant then said:

"Alright, I stabbed William Mannion. That's the truth. Now you have it."


Sergeant Connolly then administered the caution in the usual form and the applicant replied "I am in trouble now". Sergeant Connolly asked him if he would tell the whole story and he said "AlriyliL, taut some of isn't very clear".


At this point, Garda Byrne started up the car and drove to Baliinasloe Garda Station, which was approximately fifteen wiles away. During the course of the drive, the applicant said to the Gardai:-

"I didn't go to Ballinamore Bridge the first time. I cycled to William Mannion's. He let me in and we sat down and had a chat. I drew the knife and stabbed him a good few times in the neck and face. I left him sitting in a corner. He was all blood. I cycled home and, I threw the knife away down the bog road."


When the Garda car arrived in Ballinasloe, Garda Byrne parked it in the yard of the Garda Station. The two Gardai then began to get out of the car, but the applicant said "Can we not talk here?". D/Garda Byrne said to him "Will you tell us everything that you done on Sunday, the 19th July?". The applicant said, "Alright".


The applicant then told the Gardai that he met William Mannion coming out of Mass in Ballygar that Sunday morning. He said they walked up the street together as far as Kelleher's shop, He said ho went home and had his dinner and he listened to the Cork Cork V. Kerry match on radio. He left home at 5 o'clock and he went to the house of his uncle, James Mulvee. He returned how at 7 o'clock and had his tea. Ho dressed up and left home at 10 p.m., cycled down the bog road and got the knife. He said he got the knife in James Mulvee's house a few weeks before that. The applicant's statement continued:-

"I sharpened the knife as I decided to kill William Mannion. I cycled to William Mannion's house, put the bicycle in around the side. I knocked at the door and he let me in. We sat down at a table and we talked for a while. I took out the knife and just stabbed Willy in the nock and face. He...

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