A UK man who denies murdering Irish boxing champion Kevin Sheehy could have kept driving instead of “flying into a murderous rage” and “thundering” his 4x4 “like a Formula 1 driver” into the talented athlete, a prosecution barrister has told his trial.
Dean Kelly SC, prosecuting, on Thursday gave his closing speech in the trial of Logan Jackson and insisted that the evidence in the case "required and demanded" a verdict of guilty of murder.
Mr Jackson (31), of Longford Road, Coventry, England has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to Mr Sheehy's (20) manslaughter at Hyde Road in Limerick city on July 1st, 2019.
Mr Sheehy, a five times Irish boxing champion, was repeatedly run over by a Mitsubishi Shogun 4x4 and died as a result of multiple injuries, including a "catastrophic skull fracture". His body was found lying on the road at about 4.40am after attending a house party to celebrate the Munster hurling final match.
The trial has previously heard from Mr Sheehy’s cousin who said that after the party, he tried to grab on to the 20 year old before he was struck and “taken away” from him by the speeding 4x4.
The court also heard that at around 4.40am on the night Thomas Lysaght tried to pull Mr Sheehy off the ground but the vehicle “spun around” and came back towards them for a second time.
“I had to let Kevin go and move away. He was dragged up the road,” Mr Lysaght told the trial.
The witness described how he then tried to divert the driver’s attention away from his cousin but that the 4x4 “went over” the talented athlete a third time before fleeing the scene.
Beginning his closing speech, Mr Kelly asked the jury to imagine if there had been no CCTV footage taken from a house on Hyde Road that night and gardaí had no regard to it.
He added: “If it didn’t show young men gathered for a minute and a half alongside Mr Jackson’s jeep; if it didn’t show almost entirely what didn’t happen; if it didn’t show Mr Jackson getting into his jeep unimpeded, unstopped and unassaulted; if it didn’t show Mr Jackson driving off furiously moments later in his jeep with no one around, no one banging on his door, no one saying anything to him”.
Imagine, the barrister continued, if everyone had been left with what Mr Jackson had told gardaí when he handed himself into Tullamore Garda station.
Mr Kelly submitted that the accused told gardaí he was there to make a “clean breast of things” but this started to “crack” when the memos of his interviews were read.
Mr Jackson, he said, told detectives there were “three big fellas outside” and they had started threatening him and his cousin. The accused also told gardaí that one of the boys had boxed his cousin, he was scared and had dragged his cousin to his car. The UK man said he had one leg, that he was vulnerable and the boys had attacked his car so he drove off as he “wanted to get safe”.
Counsel said he was reminded of a television programme where a man was boasting about cheating on his wife and said that the key to getting away with it was to “sprinkle lies with a little flavouring of the truth.”
Tapestry of lies
Referring to Mr Jackson, the barrister said he had created a “tapestry of lies” when he spoke to gardaí and “the flavouring of the truth” had been employed by him in a fundamentally dishonest way.
There was, Mr Kelly said, care, direction and thought in Mr Jackson’s lies, when he told gardaí that there were people all around his car that night, that he just wanted to get out of there unhurt and someone had been unintentionally hurt.
Counsel described this as “nonsense top to bottom, carefully told nonsense and carefully fabricated nonsense”.
Mr Jackson, he said, had told gardaí that Mr Sheehy died by getting in the way of his car, which there was some truth in. But overall the accused’s account to officers was “rich in vivid detail and much of it was nonsense”, he said.
The accused told gardaí that his cousin was “whacked” and had to be dragged off the floor. “More vivid, graphic and cinematic nonsense... the Tarantino detail... it never happened. You can almost smell the dirt off the ground in Limerick except they are lies and it never happened,” argued counsel.
If no CCTV footage had been captured, Mr Kelly submitted that some of the jurors might be of the opinion that the accused’s account may have happened. “But it’s nonsense, top to bottom nonsense,” he repeated.
The defendant had attempted to lead the gardaí “on a merry dance” by creating a tapestry of self-serving lies; the threads of which only started to loosen and fray as piece by piece of solid evidence was presented by gardaí. “The lies don’t fly,” he said.
He reminded the jury of Derek Hanlon’s evidence, who had described the speed of the UK-registered 4x4 and how he had to jump into the garden as it mounted the footpath before it began a “second murderous run down the road”.
“Mr Hanlon said Kevin tried to fight, he tried to get himself up but clearly he was already seriously injured and then he simply said the jeep rolled over him.
“Mr Hanlon described the jeep coming back at greater speed the third time and said Mr Lysaght was doing his best to save Kevin but the jeep ran him down. He tried to break the windscreen but was unsuccessful.”
Counsel went on to describe Mr Lysaght’s evidence and how he tried in vain to hold onto “his brother” but he felt the impact of the 4x4 against his leg and Mr Sheehy was swept away.
The lawyer described the turn that the “truly enormous” 4x4 had made in the CCTV footage and the cloud of fumes and smoke it had generated before it commenced its “thunderous run”.
He drew the jury’s attention to the pattern of the blue fabric marks on the footpath from Mr Sheehy’s clothing, which told a story “with a directness that words can’t match”. “Imagine hearing of his last moments through the fabrics left on the road,” he added.
Furthermore, Mr Kelly said one is presumed to intend the natural and probable consequences of one’s actions and he suggested that if one “hurtles” towards another person in a 4x4 of that size and at that speed then the natural and probable consequences is death or serious injury.
Mr Jackson, he said, painted a picture rich in detail which caused him to lose all self-control but it was a complete fabrication. “The CCTV footage settles the issue of there being a crowd around his jeep and men attacking his car,” he said.
Going through the evidence in the trial, Mr Kelly said the “stupid, banal, ordinary” argument between himself and Mr Sheehy lasted 90 seconds at its height and one could see from the CCTV footage how unphysical it was.
Mr Lysaght testified that the accused had his top off, which Mr Sheehy noticed and said: “Look at the muscles on that guy.” When asked by the prosecution if this man was indeed “a fella with big muscles”, Mr Lysaght said he was not.
Mr Kelly told the jurors that the accused intended to rely on the partial defence of provocation and there wasn’t a more appropriate case than this of where their life experience and basic common sense could guide them in terms of what they were being asked to believe and disbelieve.
“You are being asked to accept that so profound was the provocation he experienced that an ordinary person sharing the same fixed characteristics would not be able to exercise self-control. I suggest to you that this proposition is as great a nonsense as the story Mr Jackson told gardaí in Roxboro Road on July 2nd,” he said.
The lawyer also pointed to the interviews given by the accused to gardaí in which he said: “What could I do, I have one leg.”
“I’ll tell you what Logan Jackson could have done, he could have kept going to Limerick, Galway, wherever his heart desired. He could have kept driving that night when he got to the top of Hyde Road instead of flying into a “murderous rage”. What he didn’t have to do was turn like a Formula 1 driver and thunder his jeep into Kevin Sheehy,” he said.
Mr Kelly submitted that the accused had deployed his 4x4 as a murder weapon “as sure and as clear” as if it was a gun or a knife.
He concluded by saying that the evidence in this case required and demanded a verdict of guilty of murder only.
In his closing speech, defence counsel Michael Bowman SC said he did not mean to be crude but it was not “all one way traffic here”, which one would think by listening to Mr Kelly’s speech.
Questioning the CCTV footage, Mr Bowman said it was “all pictures and no sounds, it tells us something but not everything”.
The battleground in the case, he said, was what happened before Mr Jackson got into his car that night and what was in his mind.
Mr Jackson, he said, was a young man who had alcohol in his system and someone with a prosthetic leg which he was conscious of. “He had hurt in his heart and was angry because of it,” he added.
He argued that the prosecution had not proven what the men had said to each other that night and there had not been one consistent voice or one consistent truth in the trial. “Thirty seconds of madness don’t communicate everything you need to know in terms of this man’s characteristics; the state of anger he had by virtue of losing his leg and the anger he communicates to those he hardly knows,” he continued.
The prosecution case lacked the granular detail of fact and truth, he submitted. “The verdict can only be the manslaughter plea that had been entered,” he said.
Mr Jackson also denies intentionally or recklessly engaging in conduct which created a substantial risk of death or serious harm to others to wit; driving a Mitsubishi 4x4 vehicle dangerously at high speed in the direction of pedestrians on the same occasion.
The charge of endangerment is contrary to section 13 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.
The jury have been told that Mr Jackson is a native of Coventry in the UK and has “some family connections” in Limerick.
The trial has also heard that Mr Sheehy and Mr Jackson had "an exchange" moments after leaving a house party where they had gone to celebrate Limerick's Munster hurling final victory over Tipperary in 2019. The court was told that "some exception was taken by something that was said or words spoken".
Ms Justice Eileen Creedon will begin charging the jury of five men and six women tomorrow before they commence their deliberations.