Inquest told of stabbing victim's ordeal

Thu, Nov 8, 2012, 00:00

A man pleaded with his killers that they were in the wrong house moments before they stabbed him in a frenzied attack, an inquest heard yesterday.

Painter and decorator Michael Gallagher (60), Tymonville Road in Tallaght, Dublin, shouted “You are in the wrong house” as he was subjected to the fatal assault at his home on January 18th, 2007.

Despite an extensive Garda inquiry, nobody was ever arrested in connection with his murder.

Mr Gallagher’s partner, Sally Rogers, told the Dublin Coroner’s Court that she answered the door at about 10pm to find two men wearing balaclavas on the doorstep.

They barged into the house and as Ms Rogers backed into the kitchen, one of the men hit her on the leg with a hammer.

“I think he was hitting me just to get me down on the floor. I was saying ‘Please, please’. I got down on the floor,” she said.

Ms Rogers told the court Mr Gallagher pleaded with his killers that they were mistaken. “I could hear Michael saying ‘You are in the wrong house, you are in the wrong house’. I remember seeing the knife,” she said.

She remained on the floor with her arms over her head and her eyes closed. “I thought the fellow with the hammer was going to keep hitting me and kill me,” she said.

She said she did not see Mr Gallagher being stabbed but could “hear the fear” in his voice. “I kept my eyes closed for seconds and there was silence,” she said. “I got up and could only see Michael in the kitchen. He was lying down on the floor.”

There was a “huge” pool of blood around him, she said. Neighbours came to the couple’s aid having heard Ms Rogers’s screams. Mr Gallagher was initially conscious and talking. One neighbour, Anne Nugent, said he was saying, “I am dying.”

He lost consciousness and was taken to Tallaght hospital, where he was pronounced dead within the hour.

At postmortem, State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy found 10 stab wounds to the neck, chest and back causing injury to multiple organs, including the heart.

Det Insp John Walsh said gardaí had been unable to identify a suspect despite following 480 lines of inquiry and taking 362 statements. They were also unable to establish a motive for the murder, he said.

Speaking from the body of the court, June Gallagher, daughter of the deceased, asked whether the case had been left on the shelf. “It doesn’t feel like anything is being done about it”, she said.

The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing by persons unknown.