Jury to begin deliberations in Nadine Lott murder trial

Judge tells jury that it must act clinically, dispassionately and without sympathy

The jury has heard that Nadine Lott suffered ‘severe blunt force trauma’. Photograph via Facebook

The jury has heard that Nadine Lott suffered ‘severe blunt force trauma’. Photograph via Facebook

 

A jury will begin deliberating on Wednesday in the trial of a man accused of murdering his former partner Nadine Lott by inflicting “severe blunt force trauma” injuries to her in a “sustained attack” at her Arklow home.

Mr Justice Michael MacGrath concluded his charge to the jurors on Tuesday telling them that they must act clinically, dispassionately and without sympathy towards the deceased and accused.

Daniel Murtagh (34), of Melrose Grove, Bawnogue, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of his 30-year-old ex-partner Ms Lott at her apartment in St Mary’s Court, Arklow, Co Wicklow, on December 17th, 2019.

The jury has heard that Ms Lott suffered “severe blunt force trauma” and stab injuries at the hands of her former partner “in a sustained and violent attack” in her Arklow home. They have heard evidence that the injuries to Ms Lott were so serious that she never regained consciousness and died three days later in St Vincent’s hospital in Dublin.

In his charge on Tuesday, the judge said jurors must confine their deliberations to the evidence which had been presented to them in the courtroom and they could not speculate.

Referring to the presumption of innocence, the judge said the fact Mr Murtagh had pleaded guilty to manslaughter did not alter his presumption of innocence, which he enjoyed in respect of the charge of murder. “The burden lies on the prosecution to prove every element of the offence,” he said.

Accused’s intention

Murder, said the judge, was a crime of specific intent which occurs when one person unlawfully killed another, intending that person to be killed or caused serious injury.

The judge said the accused had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter, which meant that Mr Murtagh accepted that he had killed Ms Lott by his acts and that the killing was unlawful. However, he said it also meant that Mr Murtagh does not accept he had the necessary mental element when he did the acts to Ms Lott.

He asked the jurors to focus on the accused’s intention that night. If the jury decided that the accused did not intend to kill Ms Lott, they must consider whether he intended to seriously injure her, he said.

“If you come to the conclusion that the evidence establishes that he did intend to seriously injure her but not kill her that is still murder as murder is a crime of specific intent,” he said.

Completing his charge, the judge said the jury’s focus should be on how the accused’s interviews with gardaí assisted them as to what the accused’s intention was.

Referring to the accused’s defence of intoxication, the judge said it is a defence for a crime of specific intent such as murder and can reduce the offence of murder to manslaughter.

The judge said if the jury are satisfied that the prosecution had discharged the burden of proof to kill or cause serious injury, they can find Mr Murtagh guilty of murder. However, if they are not satisfied of the accused’s requisite intention, they must acquit him of murder and return a verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

Defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC asked the court to permit that a “daddy naggin” bottle of Captain Morgan rum be shown to the jury. The barrister said the bottle had been wrongly attributed as containing 200ml, whereas the bottle presented in court contained 350ml. He said the bottle of rum had been photographed on the sofa in the deceased’s sitting room.

The jury has heard that Mr Murtagh told gardaí in interview that, in the hours before the killing, he had smoked a joint, taken two pills and drank Captain Morgan rum.

‘Dreadful blunt trauma injuries’

The jurors will be sent out to commence their deliberations at 10.30am on Wednesday. They can return two verdicts in relation to the murder charge against Mr Murtagh; guilty of murder, or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. The decision must be unanimous.

In his closing speech, prosecution counsel John O’Kelly SC said Mr Murtagh had inflicted “the most appalling and dreadful blunt trauma injuries” to Ms Lott’s face. He said this was a case of murder and “nothing short of murder” and there was no defence of intoxication.

Defence counsel said Mr Murtagh’s intent was the “main battleground” in the case and asked the jury to consider his client’s level of intoxication that night. Mr Murtagh maintained that the “bloodbath” would never have happened “but for the drink and drugs”, said the lawyer.