People (Attorney General) v Griffin


1930 WJSC-CCA 879


People (Attorney General) v. Griffin
The People (Attorney General)
Dominic Griffin

Copy Judgment of Court of Criminal Appeal (Ó Dálaigh C.J., Murnaghan and Henchy JJ. ) delivered on 5th November, 1965 .

Ó Dálaigh C.J., Murnaghan and Henchy JJ.

Conviction of murder - ground of appeal that defence was not adequately put to the jury - appeal dismissed.


Judgment on 5th November 1965 .


Dominic Griffin was convicted on the 30th June, 1965, of the murder of Sean Hunt on 24th January, 1965. He was sentenced to penal servitude for life. At the end of the trial his Counsel applied to the trial Judge for a certificate of leave to appeal. This was refused. The matter now comes before this Court as an application for leave to appeal, and the Court has treated that application as the hearing of the appeal.


The only ground of the appeal argued was that the defence was not adequately put to the jury. In order to deal with that submission it is necessary to refer to the facts of the case, at least in outline.


The applicant had a seaside hut at Shrine Road, Tramore, County Waterford. He had lived in it off and on for some years. He got married on 1st August, 1964, and he and his wife used to live in the hut. The deceased man, Sean Hunt, lived some short distance away, up a lane called Lodge's Lane. It was on this laneway that he was found stabbed to death.


The applicant said that while living in the hut he had trouble with his neighbours. In particular, he complained that on the night of the 3rd January, 1965, when he and his wife were in bed, a man came outside the hut and shouted offensive remarks about himself and his wife. He considered this a serious and worrying thing, particularly as his wife was expecting the birth of their child shortly. He said in evidence that the deceased man was one of three people whom he suspected of this objectionable conduct. A number of prosecution witnesses said that the deceased was a man of quiet disposition, but there was evidence which would suggest that he had on one occasion maliciously damaged the applicant's motor car.


On Saturday, 16th January, 1965, the applicant took his wife from the hut to the nursing home where their child was born. His evidence was that on the night of Sunday, 24th January, 1965, - it was a dark, foggy night - he drove to the hut for the purpose of tidying it up for the homecoming of his wife and child. He said that while in the bedroom he heard a man shouting outside, addressing offensive remarks to him. He decided to go out and find out who the man was. He took a bicycle lamp and the handle of a shovel with him and, when passing his motor car, which was parked outside, he got from it a knuckleduster with a knife attached which he put in his right trousers pocket. He ran up the road after the man, who was running ahead of him. When he got to where Lodge's Lane joins Shrine Road he stopped, as he did not know which way the man had gone. While stopped there, he heard the shuffling of feet on the gravel in Lodge's Lane to his left. He ran up the lane, and when he had got a few yards a coat was thrown in his face and the lamp was knocked out of his hand. He dropped the shovel handle he was carrying. The man dived at him and grabbed him round the waist. They both went crashing to the ground. The man pinned him down and got his hands on his throat and began to strangle him, saying "you will never get up again, Griffin". He struggled to break the grip on his throat, but failed. He remembered the knife in his trousers pocket. He reached for it and proceeded to stab the man repeatedly until he heard the death-rattle in his throat. The man slumpped over him and he then knew that he was dead. He pushed him to one side, got up, picked up the lamp and shone it on his dead assailant. He recognised him as Sean Hunt. He fled from the scene in panic, got into his motor car and drove away.


The defence, therefore, was one of self-defence. The deceased was undoubtedly stabbed to death in the laneway on the night of Sunday, 24th January, 1965, but the prosecution case was that his death resulted from an attack made on him by the applicant, who had lain in wait for his in the laneway.


The prosecution established that Sean Hunt spent some time in a public house in Tramore on the night of the 24th January, when he left he was wearing a fawn belted overcoat, and he had a pint bottle of stout in the pocket of it. He travelled home by the bus that left Tramore at 10.30 p.m. He got off the bus at Pickardstown Cross about 10.35. He stood talking to a fellow-passenger at the crossroads for what was described as a few seconds or a few minutes, and was last seen walking along...

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