A 33-year-old man who stabbed a man in his own home in self defence because he believed his life was in danger has been acquitted of murder by a jury at the Central Criminal Court.
The jury of nine men and three women returned their majority verdict to Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring on Friday afternoon, agreeing with the defence case that Matusz Batiuk was entitled to defend himself when he came under attack in his own home. They had deliberated for a total of nine hours and 54 minutes over three days.
Mr Batiuk had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Michael McDonagh (24) at a housing estate in Swinford on November 16th, 2020.
Ms Justice Ring thanked the jury for their service in what she described as a very difficult trial and excused the panel from jury service for a period of ten years.
Mr McDonagh died from a single stab wound to his stomach which severed the iliac artery and caused rapid, fatal blood loss.
In his closing address to the jury, defence counsel Vincent Heneghen SC said the accused’s first words during a 999 call, after he stabbed Mr McDonagh, were “I did it in self defence” and he had maintained that position throughout his garda interviews.
However, the prosecution had contended that when Mr Batiuk took a knife and “plunged” it into Michael McDonagh, he did so “with the intent of murder”.
Mr Batiuk told gardaí “I did what I did to defend myself” and said he never intended to kill Mr McDonagh.
Members of Mr McDonagh’s family cried and expressed their shock and upset after the verdict was delivered.
More to follow.