Jury given three options in trial of Dublin man
on 19/12/2012 17:34:48
Mr Justice Barry White was charging the jury today in the trial of the 34-year-old Dubliner charged with murdering a 23-year-old man last year.
Thomas Kinsella (aged 34) of Orchid House on James's Street in the capital has pleaded not guilty to murdering John Murdoch on August 27, 2011.
The Central Criminal Court has heard that Mr Murdoch was stabbed to death at Cushlawn Way - Cushlawn Dale in Tallaght, after Mr Kinsella produced a knife during a dispute.
Mr Kinsella has insisted that he was defending himself, after a group that included Mr Murdoch threw bricks and bottles at him and his two friends, a man and woman.
The trial heard that the incident began with Mr Murdoch and his two male friends calling Mr Kinsella's group 'junkies' as they walked past them. The three recovering drug addicts ignored them and kept walking but were followed.
Mr Justice White told the seven women and five men of the jury that they had to get into Mr Kinsella's shoes before deciding whether he used too much force.
He reminded them that gardaí had advised the defendant that there was a threat to his safety about a year earlier. He had also been the victim of a knife attack.
"Did he believe he was using reasonable force?" he asked.
He said that if Mr Kinsella believed he was using excessive force, then he did not have the defence of self-defence.
He explained, however, that if Mr Kinsella believed he was using reasonable force, but that it was excessive in the jury's view, then the correct verdict would be manslaughter.
"If the force was reasonable in your view and reasonable in his view, he'd be entitled to an acquittal," he added.
Prosecutor Dominic McGinn had earlier called for a verdict of guilty of murder. He said in his closing speech that the accused should not have produced the knife in the first place.
"This is not a killing justified by self-defence," he said, suggesting that it didn't matter who started the conflict.
"He (Mr Kinsella) changed the nature of the incident. He produced a bladed weapon," he said. "He didn't have to attack Mr Murdoch. He could have walked home like his friends."
Meanwhile, Brendan Grehan SC, defending, said that to suggest that Mr Kinsella should have retreated that night was a thought that would come into the head of someone sitting in a courtroom.
However, he told the jury to think like a homeless person on methadone for heroin addiction, who drank a litre of vodka a day and had a threat hanging over him.
"It takes quite some time for your nerve to recover after a threat," he said, referring to the threat being made against his client a year earlier.
"You are paranoid for some time after," he continued. "When he said he felt threatened, you have to take all that into account.
"Yes it's a dangerous thing to do to produce a knife in the course of a dispute," he said. "But, if you are that person under attack, you are entitled to defend yourself… You are entitled to use lethal force if under attack."
The jury will begin its deliberations tomorrow morning.