Man who stabbed ‘life-long’ friend found not guilty of murder

Paul Keating (51) guilty of manslaughter after killing father-of-six after fight over can of beer

Father-of-six Mark Richardson (47) died after he was stabbed  in the chest at his family home

Father-of-six Mark Richardson (47) died after he was stabbed in the chest at his family home

 

A Central Criminal Court jury has found a 51-year-old man who admitted stabbing his “life-long” friend following a fight over a can of beer not guilty of his murder but guilty of manslaughter.

The five-day trial heard evidence that Paul Keating stabbed father-of-six Mark Richardson (47) in the chest at his family home. The single stab wound severed the main pulmonary artery causing very heavy bleeding.

Keating of Harmonstown Road, Artane, Dublin 5 had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Richardson on March 16th, 2017. He died in hospital an hour after the stabbing at his home elsewhere on Harmonstown Road.

The defendant told gardaí it was the last thing on his mind to injure his friend and he had just “lost it” when the deceased had him by his neck.

A jury of six men and six women on Tuesday found Keating not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter by unanimous verdict. They had deliberated for three hours and 28 minutes over two days.

Following Tuesday’s verdict, Mr Justice Robert Eagar thanked the jury for the attention they had given to this case and exempted them from jury service for a period of five years.

The court adjourned sentencing until December 14th and Mr Justice Eagar remanded Keating in custody until that date when a victim impact statement will be before the court.

“It is likely I will reserve my judgment into the new year,” said Mr Justice Eagar.

Members of Mr Richardson’s family wept when the verdict was announced by the court registrar.

Pack of cans

During the trial Aisling Kenny, the partner of Mark Richardson, testified they had been in a relationship for 15 years and had three children together. They had moved into their home the previous year but had been homeless before that.

Ms Kenny gave evidence that her partner’s lifelong friend, Mr Keating, lived a few doors away and that he often visited their home, where he would drink with the deceased.

She said that both men had gone out together that day and arrived back around lunchtime with an eight-pack of cans each.

She joined them drinking in their dining room around 6pm. She said the men had got through most of what they had bought by the time of the stabbing.

She gave evidence that her partner and the accused were messing. “They were slagging each other over nicknames they used to call each other,” she said.

“There was a time I can remember Mark having Paul in a headlock and kind of nuggying,” she said, explaining that this was “kind of like rubbing his head”.

She said she did not remember either of them getting annoyed during this time and that both men then went out the back for no more than five minutes. “The next thing I remember is Mark being stabbed in the kitchen,” she said. She confirmed Paul Keating had stabbed him with a long, kitchen knife.

Dean Connors, Mr Richardson’s adult son, gave evidence that he arrived with his partner and their child about half an hour before the stabbing.

He said that a “discussion” arose between his father and Mr Keating as to who owned a can of drink his father gave him when he visited that evening.

“My father gave me a drink. There was a little discussion between my father and Mr Keating about who the can belonged to and a little scuffle between them,” he said. He said that this scuffle lasted about 30 seconds.

“My father ended up getting a bit upset and went out to the back garden and was giving out,” he said.

Kitchen knife

Kim Valentine, partner of Dean Connors, gave evidence that she heard a kitchen drawer “being slammed open” before she saw Mr Keating stab Mr Richardson with a kitchen knife.

She also spoke of a scuffle between the men, and the deceased having his arm around Mr Keating’s neck after the disagreement over the can of beer.

She said that Mr Keating “just snapped” and she saw “a whole change”. She agreed that everything that happened after this point was “very, very quick”.

Chief State Pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy, gave evidence in the trial and said she carried out a postmortem examination on Mr Richardson’s body on March 17th.

In her evidence, Dr Cassidy said the cause of death was a single stab wound to the right upper chest, which punctured a lung and severed the main pulmonary artery.

A toxicology report showed he had been drinking up to the time of his death and there was traces of a tranquilliser drug.

Under cross-examination by Caroline Biggs SC, defending, Dr Cassidy agreed that stab wounds to the lungs are potentially fatal but one can recover with “fairly rapid medical attention”. Dr Cassidy further agreed with Ms Biggs that the stab wound was a “good distance away” from the heart.

The trial also heard that Mr Keating was interviewed by gardaí on two occasions in Clontarf Garda station on March 17th .

The defendant told gardaí he had been drinking with Mr Richardson since March 15 and they had started arguing. “Before I knew it he had me up by my neck, I picked up the knife, I just lost it and before I knew it he was on the ground,” he said.

He did not know why he stabbed his friend as it was the last thing on his mind to injure or hurt him, the court heard.

Mr Keating said he thought he got a knife from the counter top in the kitchen and had stabbed Mark in the shoulder once. “It all just happened so quickly, it was pure drink. I was taking tablets as well which he was giving me,” he said.

The accused agreed with gardaí that he had “lost the head” and just “flipped”.

Mr Keating said he did not mean to kill his friend, it made him feel sick and he will never know why the incident had occurred.

The court also heard from forensic scientist Sarah Fleming who testified that blood-staining taken from the knife’s blade which was recovered at the scene matched Mr Richardson’s DNA profile. Ms Fleming said the probability of Mr Richardson’s DNA matching someone else was considerably less than one in a thousand million.