A 32-year-old has been sentenced to life imprisonment after he was convicted of the murder of a vulnerable 59-year-old man whom he assaulted and threw down a 40ft rubbish chute where he died from suffocation.
David O'Loughlin (32) a native of Shannon in Co Clare but with an address at Garden City Apartments, North Main Street, Cork, had denied the murder of Liam Manley at Garden City Apartments, North Main Street, Cork, on May 12th 2013, in what was a retrial of the case.
But a jury of five men and seven women took just two hours and 10 minutes to unanimously find O'Loughlin guilty and Ms Justice Tara Burns sentenced the accused to the mandatory life sentence for the offence.
During the nine-day trial at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork, the jury heard evidence that Mr Manley was a vulnerable, frail and small man who had an alcohol dependency. He was living with the Simon Community in Cork when in the early hours of May 11th 2013, he met O'Loughlin who invited him back to his flat.
A row broke out and O’Loughlin assaulted Mr Manley and picked him up and despite Mr Manley trying to save himself, O’Loughlin opened a steel door on a rubbish chute and threw him head first down the chute where he became wedged at a bend near the end.
The jury heard from Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster that Mr Manley died from a combination of hypoxia (reduced oxygen), mechanical asphyxia and pressure asphyxia due to being trapped head down in the waste chute. Mr Manley was found in the chute by maintenance man, Michael Forde.
Mr Forde told the court how he got rods to try to free the blockage and initially some red liquid started seeping out from the chute which he thought might be some sauce or ketchup from a rubbish bag only for the body to emerge from the chute.
Gardaí were alerted and began an investigation and O’Loughlin was identified as a suspect. Witness David O’Mahony told the court how Mr Manley was having a beer at O’Loughlin’s flat when he arrived there in the early hours of May 12th, 2013, when a row broke out with O’Loughlin.
He told the court that O’Loughlin dragged Mr Manley out of the apartment after giving him a couple of punches in the face and despite Mr O’Mahony asking him to stop, he continued and he heard a steel door shutting outside the apartment.
Mr O'Mahony told the court that O'Loughlin told him on his return to the flat that he had put Mr Manley "down the drain" and he later told two women who called around 8am the same thing. One of the women, Mary Kate Fitzgerald told how she laughed as she thought Mr O'Mahony was drunk.
Mr Manley's family including his sisters, Kay Murphy and Mary Lynch, told in a victim-impact statement of their horror when they learned of their brother's death and how the manner in which he died continues to haunt them.
“Liam was a kind, caring and quiet man who loved life . . . we as a family can’t find words to describe how we felt when our brother and uncle’s life was so tragically taken. To die in such horrific and frightening circumstances is something no one should have to endure. We feel hurt and sad,” they said.
“He didn’t deserve to have his life taken in such a malicious and callous way – he didn’t deserve to be put in a rubbish chute, four flights up – we wake up at night, thinking about his last thoughts – he was waiting to die, so alone and isolated from the world because of the evil act of one person.”
Det Garda Noel Maxwell told the court that O'Loughlin had more than 50 previous convictions including two for assault causing serious harm.
Ms Justice Burns said O’Loughlin’s behaviour on the night was “beyond shocking” where he assaulted a frail and defenceless man for no good reason and subjected to him a horrific death by shoving him head first into a rubbish chute in what could only be described as “the stuff of nightmares”.
She said that she was compelled to impose the mandatory life sentence but she did so without any hesitation and she hoped that while he was serving the sentence – backdated to May 21st, 2013, when he first went into custody – he would reflect on what he had done to his victim.