Manslaughter conviction quashed

Fri, Jan 18, 2013, 00:00

The Court of Criminal Appeal has quashed a 39-year-old Co Tipperary man's conviction for the manslaughter of a woman who died in a house fire almost six years ago.

The three-judge court also ordered that Jason Murphy of Elm Park in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, should be retried.

Mr Murphy was convicted by a jury at Clonmel Circuit Criminal Court in March 2010 of the manslaughter of 50-year-old Ann-Marie O'Neill at Elm Park, Clonmel on April 27th, 2007 and of two counts of arson.

In 2010, Mr Murphy pleaded not guilty to all charges and appealed against his convictions on grounds including that the trial judge, Judge Thomas Teehan, had erred in law and fact, including failing to properly present an adequate and appropriate corroboration warning to the jury.

This morning the three-judge court, comprised of Mr Justice Liam McKechnie, Mr Justice Daniel O'Keeffe and Mr Justice Michael White, agreed Mr Murphy's trial was unsatisfactory and that his convictions should be set aside, and ordered a retrial.

The Director of Public Prosecutions had opposed the appeal and argued the conviction should stand. Mr Murphy was not present in court when the decision was read out. He was remanded in custody with consent to bail pending his retrial.

During Mr Murphy's trial in 2010, the court heard that in April 2007 a fire had been started in the car owned by Ms O’Neill’s husband, Pat, parked in the driveway of their home in Elm Park Clonmel.

The fire spread to their house while they slept upstairs. Mr O’Neill escaped by jumping from a bedroom window but Mrs O’Neill was unable to escape and died.

Following his conviction, Mr Murphy was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for manslaughter, 12 years for arson to the car and seven years for arson to the house by Judge Teehan.