People (Attorney General) v Crosbie [Court of Criminal Appeal.]

Judgment Date07 September 1966
Date07 September 1966
CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal
The People (Attorney General) v. Crosbie

Court of Criminal Appeal.

Criminal Law - Murder - Verdict of manslaughter - Appeal - Evidence - Hearsay- Res gestae - Words spoken in presence of one but not other accused - Admissibility against all accused.

The appellants, C. and M., together with two other accused, were charged with the murder of C. N. M. The charge arose out of a fight which developed at the "read" room at the Dublin docks in the course of which C. N. M. was stabbed by C. Within a minute of being so stabbed, C. N. M. said when C.(but not any of the other accused, on the evidence) was standing near him:—"He has a knife, he stabbed me." The appellants were convicted of the manslaughter of C. N. M. On an application by both of them for leave to appeal against conviction and sentence it was

Held by the Court of Criminal Appeal (Haugh, Teevan and Kenny JJ.) 1, that the words spoken by C. N. M. were admissible against all the accused, although it was hearsay evidence, because it formed part of the criminal act for which the accused were being tried;

Dictum of Lord Normand in Lejzor Teper v. The Queen[1952] A. C. 480, at p. 486, adopted;

2, That there was evidence upon which the jury were entitled to conclude that M. was giving aid to C. when C. stabbed C. N. M.

Criminal Appeal.

The appellants, John Crosbie and James Meehan, together with two other accused, Patrick Meehan and William Bolger, were tried in the Central Criminal Court before Mr. Justice Henchy and a jury on the 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 14th and 15th March, 1966, on a charge that they murdered Christopher Noel Murphy on the 25th May, 1965. The appellants were acquitted of murder but they were found guilty of manslaughter; John Crosbie was sentenced to seven years' penal servitude and James Meehan to three years' penal servitude. The trial Judge refused applications made on behalf of both of the accused for certificates for leave to appeal. From these refusals, the accused appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeal. The facts have been summarised in the head-note and appear fully in the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal, post.

Kenny J. :—

John Crosbie, Patrick Meehan, James Meehan and William Bolger were tried in the Central Criminal Court before Mr. Justice Henchy and a jury in March, 1966, on a charge that they murdered Christopher Noel Murphy on the 21st of May, 1965. After a trial which lasted nine days the jury convicted John Crosbie and James Meehan of manslaughter and acquitted Patrick Meehan and William Bolger. The four accused had been tried with two others, Patrick Bradley and Michael Fagan, in the Central Criminal Court in November, 1965, when Mr. Justice Budd directed the jury to find Patrick Bradley and Michael Fagan not guilty and the jury disagreed on the charge against the four accused. An application for a certificate for leave to appeal against conviction and sentence by counsel for John Crosbie and James Meehan was refused by the trial Judge and they applied to this Court for leave to appeal. The arguments on the hearing of the appeal ended on the 27th July and the Court then stated that the applications for leave to appeal were refused and that the Court would give its reasons at a later date.

Christopher Noel Murphy was killed on the 21st of May, 1965, during a fight in what is called "the read room" in the docks in Dublin. The dockers seeking work meet in this room and those who are to be employed for the shifts during the day hear their names being read out by the representatives of the stevedores. Murphy was killed at 8.30 a.m. when there were about 500 persons in this room. His death was caused by a stab-wound inflicted on him by Crosbie who made a statement to the Guards in which he admitted that he had a knife with him at the time of the fight. There was abundant evidence on which the jury would have been entitled to find that the stab-wound which caused Murphy's death was inflicted by Crosbie. A large number of witnesses were called by the prosecution: some of them had been in the read room when the fight occurred and the accounts which they gave of the sequence of the events differed in some details.

The accused, James Meehan and Patrick Meehan, are brothers. James lived at 15 Edenmore Grove, Raheny, Dublin, with two of his sisters, Ellen and Jean. Crosbie lived beside the Meehans, at 17 Edenmore Grove, Raheny: Patrick Meehan did not live in Raheny. James Meehan's two sisters worked in a café at Burgh Quay and in May, 1965, a man called Christopher Meier, who went to this café, had been offensive to them. They complained about this to James and Patrick Meehan and to Crosbie and on Wednesday, the 19th May, Crosbie assaulted Meier at the Labour Exchange in Gardiner Street. Crosbie intended to go to England on the evening of Friday, the 21st May, and the two Meehans, William Bolger and he decided that they would attack Meier in the read room on the Friday morning, the 21st May, when they knew he would be there. The four of them met on Friday morning and went into the read room. Crosbie was carrying a knife but there was no evidence that any of the other three accused knew this. James Meehan had a spanner which he described in his statement as being about a foot long and which he said he had "to defend myself."

It is now necessary to give a description of the read room. There are three entrances into it, two on the east side and one on the west side. The two on the east are at the northern and southern ends of the east side while the entrance on the west side (called the stevedores' door) is approached through a porch which is a small room at the south-west corner with doors on the north and south side of it. The two doors on the eastern side were sliding doors, while the stevedores' door was on hinges. The porch was five feet by four feet and the northern and southern doors in it were closed throughout the fight. The read room was 75 feet, 6 inches, long and 68 feet wide. There are four stands in the room and from these the representatives of the stevedores, having climbed some steps, read the names of the dockers. Crosbie entered the read room by the lower door on the east side when Meier was...

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14 cases
  • DPP v McCormack
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 17 Abril 2007
    ...fact, but merely evidence of what had been said to the gardaí. The Court of Criminal Appeal, relying on The People (A.G.) v. Crosbie (1961) 1 Frewen 231, held that a statement of the accused, once put in evidence by the prosecution, is to be treated as evidence of the facts stated. I quote ......
  • DPP v Keith Connorton
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 28 Julio 2023
    ...on Evidence (Dublin, 1982) which references in this regard R v O'Connell (1845) 1 Cox CC 403 and The People (AG) v Crosbie and Meehan [1966] IR 490. 16 In concurring with the analysis offered by Woulfe J's principal judgment, only one case need be cited here. The “doctrine of res gestae is ......
  • DPP v MacEoin
    • Ireland
    • Court of Criminal Appeal
    • 17 Abril 1978
    ...less than manslaughter: it can never justify an acquittal. Cases mentioned in this report:— 1 The People (Attorney General) v. Crosbie [1966] I.R. 490, 495. 2 The People (Attorney General) v. Dwyer [1972] I.R. 416, 422. 3 Holmes v. Director of Public Prosecutions [1946] A.C. 588. 4 Attorney......
  • Minister for Justice and Equality v Harrison
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 24 Enero 2020
    ...manslaughter by a criminal and dangerous act, the respondent relies on the decision of the Supreme Court in The People (AG) v. Crosbie [1966] IR 490. In that case, Kenny J. stated:- “When a killing resulted from an unlawful act, the old law was that the unlawful quality of the act was suffi......
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