Jury deliberates in case of man accused of murdering trespasser

Court told man stabbed a mobile home trespasser with half a garden shears

Martin Keenan (20) of Cardiffsbridge Avenue, Finglas, arrives at the Central Criminal Court where he has pleaded not guilty to murdering Wesley Mooney (33). Photograph: Collins Courts

Martin Keenan (20) of Cardiffsbridge Avenue, Finglas, arrives at the Central Criminal Court where he has pleaded not guilty to murdering Wesley Mooney (33). Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A jury has begun deliberating in the trial of a Traveller charged with murdering a trespasser in his mobile home by stabbing him with half a garden shears.

The accused said that the deceased had attacked him after he’d asked him to leave, and that he picked up the nearest object and hit him with it. The Central Criminal Court jury was given the long-handled shears to examine as part of its deliberations.

Martin Keenan (20) of Cardiffsbridge Avenue, Finglas, in Dublin has pleaded not guilty to murdering 33-year-old Wesley Mooney at St Joseph’s Park halting site, Dunsink Lane, north Dublin on June 5th, 2016.

Mr Justice Paul Butler charged the 10 men and two women of the jury on Monday telling them they had three verdicts open to them: guilty, not guilty or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

He said that, under the Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act 2011, there was a right to use reasonable force, where a person believed the other entered the dwelling as a trespasser, especially in the context of committing a crime.

“That’s certainly a reasonable belief in this case,” he said.

No obligation

However, he said the force used had to be reasonable in the circumstance as the accused believed it to be. He also said that there was no obligation on the accused to retreat from the situation.

“The use of force is a matter of last resort. It must be reasonable and proportionate to the threat,” he added.

“If you’re satisfied that the prosecution has not negated the accused’s case, that he felt in danger, a man was attacking him, then he’s entitled to defend himself using force,” he explained. “If the force is not disproportionate, then he’s not guilty. If it is disproportionate, then it is not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.”

The jury foreman asked how the 2011 Act differed from the law that had been there beforehand.

“Before that, if you were in situation, you had to retreat,” replied the judge. “Now, you have certain rights in your home. If you’re using the force in defence of yourself or your home and it’s not reasonable then it’s manslaughter, not murder.”

The foreman also asked if the jury could have the weapon. It was handed to him, with the judge warning the jurors to be careful with it.

They spent about an hour considering their verdict before being sent home for the evening. They will resume deliberations on Tuesday morning.