Inquest opens into murder of settled Traveller in 2007

Thomas Ward (23), an amateur boxer, was struck with ‘an axe-like object’ in Sligo

Inspector Ray Mulderrig applied to have the inquest adjourned pending criminal proceedings which he said were still being contemplated.  File image: Dara Mac Dónaill

Inspector Ray Mulderrig applied to have the inquest adjourned pending criminal proceedings which he said were still being contemplated. File image: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

An inquest opened at Sligo coroner’s court on Monday into the death of a young man who suffered “a catastrophic head injury” after being attacked near his parents’ home in 2007.

Coroner Eamon MacGowan heard that Thomas Ward, an amateur boxer, was 23 years old and was “generally fit and well” when he was struck with “an axe-like object” at Joe McDonnell Drive in Cranmore, Sligo.

Mr Ward’s wife was pregnant with their second child when he was killed.

A post mortem following the attack in the early hours of August 13th 2007, found that his injuries were “incompatible with life”.

Detective Inspector Ray Mulderrig told the coroner that an appeal in connection with this case was currently before the Supreme Court. He said that a file had been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions in the case and as a result a charge of withholding information had been brought. This had been successfully challenged in the High Court and was currently before the Supreme Court.

Inspector Mulderrig told the inquest that following the fatal attack, the area had been sealed off by gardaí, and officers from the Garda Technical Bureau had examined the scene. House-to-house inquiries were conducted and CCTV footage from the area was examined. He said all lines of inquiry were rigorously pursued.

The Garda inspector said that a recent review had been carried out into Mr Ward’s murder and a number of witnesses were re-interviewed. He said the Garda investigation continues to be live.

Inspector Mulderrig applied to have the inquest adjourned pending criminal proceedings which he said were still being contemplated.

Granting the adjournment Mr MacGowan extended sympathy to the Ward family on the “terrible crime” which he said they continue to live with.

Mr Ward’s 30 year old brother Pat Ward was murdered in Clogher Co Tyrone on February 9th last. A man and a woman have appeared before Dungannon Magistrates’ Court charged with his murder.

The State and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) have urged the Supreme Court to overturn the striking down of a law under which a man was charged with withholding information in connection with the killing of Mr Ward , who was a member of the settled Traveller community.

The Supreme Court has reserved judgement in the case.

The appeal is against a High Court finding that Section 9.1.b of the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 is unconstitutional because it offends the constitutional right to remain silent and is “impermissibly vague and uncertain”.

The High Court case was taken by Michael Sweeney, Bog Road, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, who in 2011 was charged with withholding information which might have led to arrest or prosecution of another person in relation to Mr Ward’s killing.