Trial of man who stabbed friend is a case of 'murder and nothing else', prosecution says

Damien Singleton (30) of no fixed abode, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of his friend Peter Donnelly on Dublin's O'Connell Street
Trial of man who stabbed friend is a case of 'murder and nothing else', prosecution says

Paul Neilan

The prosecution barrister in the trial of a man who admits killing his friend on Dublin's O'Connell Street has told the jury that the case is "murder and nothing else".

Damien Singleton (30) of no fixed abode, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of his friend Peter Donnelly.

Opening the case for the prosecution on Tuesday, Lorcan Staines SC told the jury that Mr Donnelly (39), who was from Kilkenny, had been living rough around Dublin in the days before his killing on June 11th, 2019.

Mr Staines said that evidence will show that father-of-one Mr Donnelly had spent the two evenings prior to his death in and around Dublin city centre in the company of his friend Mr Singleton, who was 28 at the time.

Counsel said that Garda Nicola Torsney was on duty on O'Connell Street at around 12.25am on June 11th, talking to a young girl for whom she was concerned. He said Mr Singleton came up and spoke to her for 30 minutes before giving the garda a hug and moving on.

Gda Torsney, said Mr Staines, was returning her attention to the young girl when she heard shouting between Mr Singleton and Mr Donnelly nearby.

CCTV footage

Counsel said it is the State's case that CCTV footage shows Mr Singleton stab Mr Donnelly three times before hitting him with a bottle and running away.

Mr Staines told the jury that it is Mr Singleton's assertion that it was actually Mr Donnelly who came at the accused with the knife.

"This is simply untrue and you can see for yourself - this is murder and nothing else," said Mr Staines.

In her evidence, Gda Torsney told Mr Staines that on the night she had recognised a young girl with a sleeping bag and spoke to her out of concern for her wellbeing as a child on O'Connell Street after midnight.

Gda Torsney said that Mr Singleton interrupted the conversation and that she knew him from dealing with the accused in the past, when he was the injured party in a separate matter.

Qualifications

The witness said that Mr Singleton spoke about how he was "doing well", that he had qualifications in woodwork after a time in England and that he was proud that he could afford the expensive Nike runners was wearing.

The witness told Mr Staines that the accused, however, got upset when talking about his grandmother, from whom he had a "great love" and whom he said was getting old. Gda Torsney said that during their conversation Mr Singleton was approaching members of the public looking for a cigarette and a lighter and that he became "angry and quite verbal" when refused.

Gda Torsney said that Mr Singleton calmed down when she rebuked him for his behaviour and that he later thanked her for listening to him. The witness said that Singleton "felt better" before giving her a hug and moving on. She then observed him cross O'Connell Street and proceed north before she heard shouting.

The witness said she then observed Mr Singleton "getting in the face" of another male by shouting at him and raising his arms towards the other male. Gda Torsney radioed Garda control for CCTV to be kept on both males, even though their shouting had, by then, died down.

'Something happened'

After turning back to help the girl, the witness said that a message went out from Garda control that "something had happened" between the pair and that a male was on the ground on O'Connell Street.

After running to the scene Gda Tornsney saw a male on the ground "with a large stream of blood coming out of his head and onto the street". Two passers-by were administering CPR when she arrived. The witness said that she then took over CPR but that the prone male "wasn't responding, there was no movement and his eyes were open towards the sky".

Gda Torsney then put out a description of Mr Singleton as wearing dark tracksuit clothing and Nike runners, and that he had black hair with a scar on his face. Soon after the description was issued, Garda Ciaran O'Rourke reported apprehending Mr Singleton along with other gardaí at nearby Marlborough Street. Gda Torsney said she went to Marlborough Street and identified Mr Singleton who was being held "face down with a lit cigarette in his mouth".

'Bloodied knife'

Gda Torsney said that Mr Singleton's clothes and runners were bloody, that there was "an awful lot of blood on his hands" and that a bloodied knife was soon after recovered "a couple of metres" away from the scene of the arrest.

Defending counsel Michael Bowman SC put it to Gda Torsney that during their conversation, Mr Singleton's mood was "ebbing and flowing" and that he exhibited a "spectrum of emotion in a short time", to which the witness agreed.

Mr Bowman said that his client had suffered a "diabolical" injury in the form of a scar that ran from the top of his head to his chin because of a "slashing" attack with a bladed weapon. He said that Mr Singleton had been a drug-user who had injected heroin and that he had nearly died from an overdose.

Mr Bowman asked Gda Torsney if the accused had slurred his words or appeared under the influence of any intoxicants and was told no. Mr Bowman said that when Mr Singleton was taken to hospital later the same night, reports revealed that his client had morphine and cocaine in his system but Gda Torsney said she was unaware of this and that the accused had not slurred his words with her.

CCTV footage of the incident was then played to the jury. The footage showed two males in an animated state with each other while walking northwards on the GPO side of O'Connell Street.

The footage then shows the male in darker clothing pull the top of the male in a lighter tracksuit towards him and downwards before striking him three times from above with what appears to be a knife to the back upper torso area around the left shoulder.

The trial continues tomorrow at the Central Criminal Court before a jury of eight men and four women.

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