Daniel Murtagh of Melrose Grove, Bawnogue, Clondalkin has been handed a life sentence for the brutal murder of his ex-girlfriend Nadine Lott.
Nadine Lott's mother has described the scene at her daughter's apartment, where she was beaten by her former partner to the point where she was “completely unrecognisable”, as one of “total horror”.
Claire Lott told the Central Criminal Court that her family are “haunted” by thoughts of her daughter's “terror, fear, panic and cries” during the “prolonged, evil attack” carried out by Daniel Murtagh, a man she described as a “monster”.
Referring to the two-week trial which commenced last July, Mrs Lott said that her family had been “dragged” through it, which has “added fresh grief and new nightmares to the memories we carry every day”.
“We now have even more detail, evidence and pictures of the extreme gravity of Nadine's suffering. The callous, coldness and unremorseful evil that forced our beautiful Nadine from us, her family,” she said.
Mrs Lott had described to the jury during the trial the moment she found her daughter lying on her back in the kitchen of her apartment.
“I couldn't recognise her face, I couldn't recognise it was Nadine,” she recalled.
During today's sentence hearing, Mrs Lott elaborated on the “total horror” of that night on December 13th, 2019 saying: “The total carnage that we entered, can and never will be forgotten. The house, her beautiful apartment, was the sight of a horror movie. Nadine’s blood splashed everywhere, broken glass, smashed mirrors, just total horror. When we got to the kitchen the screams of my son and my younger daughter, I will always carry with me.”
She continued: “Nadine, my daughter, my baby was beyond recognition, she was gasping, blood pouring from her in so many places that all I could do was lie on the floor with her holding her hand trying to give comfort, comfort that I was there.”
The testimony was heard as part of an emotional victim impact statement read on Monday to the Central Criminal Court, where 34-year-old Daniel Murtagh was sentenced to the mandatory term of life imprisonment for murdering his former partner Nadine Lott.
In her statement, Mrs Lott said the staff at St Vincent's Hospital had “tried so hard” and “went above and beyond”, with “many visibly emotional at what they were seeing and dealing with”.
“For people who witness a lot in their daily roles this was testament to the monstrosity and evil Nadine had endured in her final hours," she added.
Nadine died three days later on December 17th, which Mrs Lott described as a “nightmare” which “had no ending”.
“That same evening Nadine was taken from the hospital to the coroner’s morgue, as now my daughter was evidence, my baby was evidence, her little body would be used to help with her case. Nadine’s case against a monster for the evil she had endured,” she said.
“Life without Nadine is cruel, empty, to have to carry on without her every minute of every day is a struggle. The never-ending pain, tangible emptiness, constant flashbacks are now part of an existence for us — Nadine’s adoring family. We live in a never-ending nightmare that has no waking up time. We are haunted by Nadine’s terror, fear, panic, cries on that night during the prolonged evil attack,” she said.
On August 5th, Murtagh, of Melrose Grove, Bawnogue, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 was convicted by unanimous jury verdict of murdering his 30-year-old ex-partner Ms Lott at her apartment in St Mary's Court, Arklow, Co Wicklow on December 17th, 2019. He had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.
Passing sentence today, Mr Justice Michael MacGrath called the murder of Nadine “brutal” and said that the evidence from gardaí and first responders who attended the scene in the aftermath of the attack, some who remain greatly upset, was “testament to the terror, evil and brutality” that the deceased was subjected to.
The judge said the actions that Nadine's family had to carry out at the scene, in particular Claire Lott who he said made efforts to keep her daughter alive, were “unimaginable”. He said these circumstances exemplified the “great bond” in this “very caring and close-knit family”.
Mr Justice MacGrath extended his condolences to the Lott family and friends “on a greatly loved and greatly loving daughter and friend”. In particular, the judge said that he wished to mention Claire Lott, who showed “great courage and love in the face of a most terrifying and horrific experience”.
“This will continue to have an enduring effect on all those who loved Nadine Lott,” he concluded.
The judge then sentenced Murtagh to the mandatory term of life imprisonment for murder. The sentence was backdated to December 16th, 2019, when he went into custody.
Last August, the 12 jurors unanimously rejected Murtagh's defence that he was too intoxicated to have formed the intent to murder his ex-girlfriend and that the “bloodbath” would never have happened “but for the drink and drugs” he consumed that night.
Defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC had asked for a verdict of manslaughter on the grounds of lack of intent due to alcohol intoxication. Murder is a crime of specific intent and voluntary intoxication can have the effect of reducing the offence of murder to manslaughter.
Murtagh had told gardaí that before his assault on Nadine, he had smoked a joint, taken two pills and drank a “daddy naggin” or shoulder of Captain Morgan rum straight. He also told them that he had been on methadone for the previous three months.
The jury accept the State's contention that this was a case of murder and “nothing short of murder”. In his closing speech, prosecution counsel John O'Kelly SC argued that there was no defence of intoxication in the case and said Murtagh had the “clearest intent” when he inflicted the “most dreadful blunt trauma injuries” to the beauty therapist's face.
“Just look at what the accused didn't do and what he never tried to do, he never raised a hand to get Nadine any kind of help,” he stressed.
The injuries to Nadine were so serious that she never regained consciousness after the attack on December 14th and died three days later in St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin.
An eyewitness and neighbour of Nadine's told the trial that Murtagh made a “growling noise” and was “vicious with rage” as he inflicted blows on his ex-partner in her living room “like a wild animal”.
Amela Kulenovic found the defendant “in a crouched position” on top of Nadine, where he was “inflicting a lot of force” on her and had his hands around her neck and shoulders. She said he was “going ape on” his former partner “like a wild animal” and was “totally out of control”.
Evidence was also given that a garda who telephoned ambulance control informed them that Nadine had been “beaten to a pulp”.
Garda Linda Butler said the left side of Nadine's face was “extremely and grotesquely swollen" and when she placed her fingers inside the patient's mouth to clear her airways, she noticed some teeth were missing.
A paramedic who attended to the mother-of-one at her home testified that the emergency call he made to Nadine's house will “haunt” him for the rest of his career and was one of the most “horrendous scenes” he had ever walked into.
Ian Clarke said it was like a “bulldozer” had gone through Nadine's apartment and described kneeling on broken glass as he performed CPR on her. He said his uniform was “destroyed” with blood, and he changed his gloves about five or six times.
An intensive care nurse at the hospital described Nadine as “completely unrecognisable” and said that she had never seen anybody so badly injured. “Her mum brought in a photo of her and everyone kept saying 'who is that' and I said: 'that's her',” explained Nurse Leah Grant.
Nadine died after suffering “traumatic head, neck and chest injuries” and her brain was swollen following the “sustained and violent attack”.
Chief State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan noted that the blunt force injuries were caused by hands, fists or feet and the use of a blunt weapon could not be ruled out. The cause of death was hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy due to traumatic head, neck and chest injuries. The court heard there were 64 individual injuries observed all over Nadine's body, which could not be accounted for through medical intervention.
The trial heard that just under two weeks before Murtagh killed his ex-girlfriend, she told him not to “threaten” her and that “nothing is ever going to happen between us again, I want to make that clear”.
When Murtagh was later arrested and placed in a patrol car on the morning of the attack, the accused told the officer that it was “a domestic” but said he really loved Nadine. “Answer me this, is she still alive? Tell me is she still alive?” he asked gardaí.
In his first interview with gardaí, Murtagh had said he loved Nadine, that he was intoxicated at the time of the assault, and he could not remember anything. In a subsequent interview, he said he had given her a “soft slap”, before telling gardaí he had “obviously hit her a few slaps”.
It was the first time he had ever hit her, he said, and insisted that he only gave her a couple of slaps.
“I had no intention to ever hurt her,” he said.
Murtagh later went on to tell detectives that he gave Nadine “six or seven hard digs” but did not “go to town” on her. However, the accused eventually said that he was “pounding” Nadine with his hands and “punching like mad”. He told gardaí that if he had wanted to kill her, he would have.
Demonstrating to gardaí how he delivered punches down on the beautician as she lay on the ground, the defendant said he had boxed “for years” and his knuckles were “well-conditioned”.
However, it was not until his fourth and final interview that the accused described to gardaí how he had held a charger for a tyre pump in his hand for solidity and had “wrapped” the wire around his knuckles as he beat the Wicklow woman. He also accepted he might have used the cigarette-type charger “in a hammer action” on the “helpless woman”.
When asked in an interview why he hit Nadine, Murtagh had at one point replied: “No reason, absolutely no reason guard, I'm going to pray every night. I just snapped, I don't know. I never hit a girl in my life.”
However, he also later told gardaí that: “I know she was with a lad in Arklow, and I was trying to get it out of her.”
Murtagh fled the apartment after the attack, taking his Volvo car from outside and driving it away. Around 7am the same morning and some 31km away from Ms Lott's apartment in Laragh, Mr Murtagh crashed his car into a ditch and received some minor injuries.
The convicted murderer told a motorist who stopped to help him that he had “killed my wife because she was with my friend”.