'Your verdicts must be unanimous': Jury deliberations commence in Cork murder trial

'Your verdicts must be unanimous': Jury deliberations commence in Cork murder trial

(Left to right) Helen Jones and Keith O'Hara

The jury of ten – four women and six men – have finally commenced their deliberations in the Cork murder trial which commenced just over three weeks ago.

Mr Justice Michael McGrath concluded his address to the jury at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork and sent them out to deliberate at 12.28 today.

It is now down to the jurors to decide if Helen Jones and Keith O’Hara are guilty or not guilty of the murder of Ms Jones’s brother Paul Jones at his home at 108 Bandon Road, Cork, on September 4 2019. The judge has told them that their verdicts must be unanimous.

Helen Jones, 54, of 27 Cahergal Avenue, Mayfield, Cork, pleaded not guilty to the charge of murdering Paul Jones – her 52-year-old brother at his home - on September 4 2019 at 108 Bandon Road, Cork.

Her co-accused Keith O’Hara, 43, also of 27 Cahergal Avenue, also pleaded not guilty to the same murder charge.

Each defendant is additionally charged with a different count related to alleged trespass at the same time and place. Helen Jones is charged with trespass to cause serious harm while carrying a knife. Keith O’Hara is charged with trespassing to commit serious harm. The defendants also pleaded not guilty to these charges.

Unanimous verdict needed

Mr Justice McGrath said today, “Your verdicts must be unanimous. You have two charges against each of the two accused.

“You must consider the position against each accused separately.

“Each one of you has the same voice inside in that jury room. Do not hold back. Engage fully. You are sworn to do so. Don’t go along with the flow. Make your voice heard.

“If you have a reasonable doubt you must resolve that doubt in favour of the accused and find them not guilty of the offences.” 

All parties in the case agreed in the first week that the trial could continue in front of a jury of ten when two jurors failed to appear on different days.

In respect of the murder charge against Keith O’Hara they can bring in one of three possible verdicts – guilty, not guilty or thirdly, not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. This latter possibility arises in his case because he raised the defence of acting in self-defence. His co-accused declined to give evidence and simply pleaded not guilty to the murder charge against her.

The judge also told them that if their verdict on each murder charge is one of not guilty then it followed in respect of the trespass charge against each defendant that they should be found not guilty of that also.

They will only have to deliberate on the trespass charges against Helen Jones if they convict her of murder. Similarly, in respect of Keith O’Hara they will only have to deliberate on his trespass charge he is convicted of murder or manslaughter. If the parties are found not guilty of murder, the judge said not guilty on the trespass charges should follow.

Chief state pathologist

Chief state pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan found a chop wound to the head which fractured Paul Jones’s skull which may have been caused by a machete or like implement, and also described 25 stab wounds to the chest, stomach and upper back, even of which were more than 10 centimetres deep.

“It is my view that death in this case was due to chop wounds to the head and multiple stab wounds to the trunk and right arm with no contributing factors.

“Death probably occurred 30 minutes to an hour within the time of receiving the injuries.”

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