Man died of blunt force trauma before being set on fire, court told

State Pathologist says Gerard Donnelly suffered catastrophic injuries to his face and head

 Members of the Gardai Technical Bureau  at the scene in the Phoenix Park where Gerard Donnelly was found dead on November 29th, 2013. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Members of the Gardai Technical Bureau at the scene in the Phoenix Park where Gerard Donnelly was found dead on November 29th, 2013. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

A homeless man, whose body was found on fire in a Dublin park, died of blunt force trauma to the head and was already dead when his body was set alight and his little toe amputated, a murder trial has heard.

The State Pathologist gave the evidence to the Central Criminal Court on Wednesday in the trial of another homeless man, charged with murdering him in the Phoenix Park in 2013.

Prof Marie Cassidy testified that Gerard Donnelly had catastrophic injuries to his face and head. She said these would have been caused by multiple blows from a moderately heavy object.

She said that death may not necessarily have been instantaneous, but he would have been rendered unconscious straight away. Death would have been due to the brain injury and obstruction of breathing due to facial bone fractures and blood in his airways.

She identified a lump hammer found next to his head and said that this could have been “a potential causative weapon”.

Tool found

Prof Cassidy was also shown a pincers-type tool found next to his head, and said that this could have been the item used to amputate his little toe and to cause a wound to his left thumb. Both of these injuries, she said, were most likely inflicted after death.

Ciaran Moran (29), with a previous address at Camden Hall, Camden Street, Dublin is charged with murdering Mr Donnelly, who was in his mid 30s.

He has pleaded not guilty to murdering him at an unknown time between November 28th and 29th, 2013.

The trial continues this afternoon before Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan and a jury of nine men and three women. It is expected to last ten working days.

The trial previously head that both men were homeless, with the deceased living in the park and the accused in a hostel.

Bank book

Caroline Biggs SC, for the prosecution, said that the jury would hear from gardaí, who had come into contact with both men in the weeks before the death.

She said that on one such occasion, October 29th, the deceased was in possession of €8,500 and had an EBS bank book showing a balance of €140,000.

Ms Biggs said they would hear evidence to put the deceased in the area around 10.30pm on the evening of November 28th and that he didn’t stay in his hostel that night, but checked into a B&B between 2am and 4am.

She said that he was in possession of items consistent with what was found at the scene, including hammers and a gas canister. She said he was also aware that Mr Donnelly was a man of considerable means and that the accused later had the funds to buy a phone and bicycle.