CHARLOTTE MULHALL has lost her appeal against her conviction for the murder of her mother's boyfriend, whose body was dismembered and dumped in the Royal Canal, Dublin.
Ms Mulhall (24), Kilclare Gardens, Tallaght, Dublin 24, who is a mother of one child, attended at the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday for the hearing. She was jailed for life in 2006 after being convicted of the murder of Farah Swaleh Noor in March 2005, following a trial at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin.
Her older sister Linda (31), a mother of four, was convicted of manslaughter.
The appeal court has allowed Linda Mulhall to appeal against the severity of the sentence but has reserved its decision on the appropriate sentence to apply until it has studied psychological and probation reports.
The three-judge appeal court with Mr Justice Hugh Geoghegan presiding and sitting with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, rejected Charlotte Mulhall's appeal on all grounds advanced by senior counsel Brendan Grehan.
The central plank of the appeal related to comments made by the trial judge, Mr Justice Paul Carney, to the jury when they asked him, on the second day of their deliberations, for guidance because they were deadlocked.
The jury foreman had asked would the court accept a majority decision, Mr Grehan said. Mr Justice Carney had said there were five children who had a "vital interest" in the jury's decision and he then asked them to "make a final push to reach agreement". The children referred to were Charlotte's newborn baby and the four children of her sister Linda.
Mr Grehan said the comments were contrary to what juries are told - to deal with cases on the evidence and not on the basis of emotion. The only explanation of such remarks was that the jury had been "put under pressure" to reach a verdict, he argued.
That pressure must have led someone who up until then had been in the minority on the jury to go over to the majority, counsel submitted. The jury eventually returned a 10/2 verdict of murder in his client's case.
Mr Grehan also argued that the verdict of murder against Charlotte was bizarre and perverse in light of the evidence before it.
Opposing the appeal, senior counsel Tom O'Connell for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the judge's request that the jury make a final push to reach a conclusion was not an ultimatum or threat. In fact, the jury had taken a further night before reaching a verdict, he said.
Rejecting the appeal, Mr Justice Geoghegan dismissed the argument that the jury's finding was perverse. On the basis of the evidence before it and the statements made by Charlotte, the jury was "perfectly entitled" to come to the verdict of murder in relation to her, he said.
In relation to the remarks by Mr Justice Carney, Mr Justice Geoghegan said there had been no objection raised by the defence at the time of the trial, although the prosecution had done so. Common sense would have said the defence would have benefited from the remarks, he added.
An even stronger reason for holding the verdict was safe and that the jury was not put under undue pressure was that they took another night to consider the matter before delivering a verdict.
Charlotte Mulhall remained impassive as the appeal was refused. During her trial, the jury was told she stabbed Mr Noor up to 20 times while Linda admitted hitting him "a good few times" in the head with a claw hammer.
They then dumped his limbs and torso in the nearby Royal Canal before taking his head on the bus to Tallaght where it was hidden in a park, before being moved to another location. His head and other parts of his body have not been found.