Murder accused fails to block trial


MARK NASH, the convicted double murderer of a young Co Roscommon couple, yesterday failed in a High Court bid to restrain the Director of Public Prosecutions from charging him with the double murder of two elderly women at their Grangegorman residence.

Nash is serving a life sentence for what a judge described as the brutal killings of a young married couple, Karl and Catherine Doyle, in their home at Castlerea in August 1997, and for a hammer assault on Catherine’s sister, Sarah Jane, who had been his then girlfriend.

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty, rejecting Nash’s application, said the Grangegorman double murder of Sylvia Shields and Mary Callinan, both in their early sixties and former inpatients at nearby St Brendan’s hospital, was as horrific a crime as virtually any in living memory. He said their bodies had been discovered by security officials and each had sustained horrific and multiple fatal injuries in the face, neck, torso and genital areas with a carving fork and other implements.

Judge Moriarty said Nash had sought the injunction on the grounds of prosecutorial delay, adverse publicity, prejudice due to unavailability of witnesses and the manner of care and storage of items of prosecution evidence from which purported identification evidence was derived.

He had been convicted of the Roscommon crimes and belatedly had been charged with the Grangegorman murders in which another suspect, the late Dean Lyons, had volunteered statements of having committed them.

Nash, too, had allegedly confessed to gardaí that he had murdered the two Grangegorman women but subsequently, in a number of verbal and written communications with the gardaí, he had retracted all the inculpatory admissions he had made in relation to the murders.

Following Garda inquiries, the proceedings against Lyons were dropped in April 1998. An apology to his family was published in the national media. Lyons died in Manchester in September 2000.

Mr Justice Moriarty said Nash’s solicitor, James McGuill, had been zealous in his representation of Nash and believed his client could not receive a fair trial in regard to the Grangegorman murders in this jurisdiction in light of sensationalised and prolonged media coverage that had arisen.

Mr McGuill had maintained that the constant barrage of gravely prejudicial publicity about Nash’s alleged involvement, particularly in the print media, had been of such intensity as to preclude the possibility of having the issues tried by an untainted jury.

Mr Justice Moriarty said the delay in itself was not such as to preclude him from allowing the trial to proceed nor was the absence of witnesses through death or illness. He had read much of the historic print media extracts, some of which were of a lurid and sensational character.

He felt that notwithstanding delays and their consequences plus much lurid publicity, these matters were not such as to preclude a fair trial or such as could not fairly be addressed by rulings and directions of the trial judge.