Murder accused previously used Samurai sword to stab neighbour, court told

Alan Ward’s son tells trial his parents often argued and sometimes his father would punch his mother

 

A man accused of murdering his wife by stabbing her in the throat had previously been forced to leave Tallaght in Dublin after he used a Samurai sword to stab his neighbour during a fight, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Adam Ward (23), the son of the accused man Alan Ward and the deceased Catherine Ward, said his father collected knives which he displayed on the mantle piece and on walls throughout their home.

Following the stabbing, Adam said his father left the Tallaght area and the rest of the family followed after their windows were smashed in and acid was thrown on their car. Adam said he stopped speaking to his father as he was annoyed at having to leave the area where he had grown up and where his friends lived.

Mr Ward also told the trial that his parents often argued, would push and drag one another, and sometimes his father would punch his mother. He said his father wouldn’t let his mother do the things she wanted and he thought she “felt trapped”. He said the accused “antagonised” his mother and during arguments would insult her and put her down.

Adam also recalled the night his mother died. He said he had been playing Playstation in his room when he heard a bang from his mother’s bedroom. When he went to find out what was happening he said his father swiped at him with a blade, told him: “Get the f**k away from me or I’m going to kill you,” and lunged towards him with the knife. The witness said he moved out of the way of the blade and ran downstairs and out onto the street to a group of neighbours who called gardaí.

A garda who was present when Alan Ward was arrested minutes after the fatal stabbing, said she overheard the accused say: “I’m sorry, we had a row. I love her.” He also said: “I’m sorry. I stabbed her. We had a row. We are always fighting.” He told gardaíthat his wife hit him and after he asked her to stop hitting him, she struck him in the face with a bottle. He added; “I hope she’s not dead. I didn’t mean to do it.”

Alan Ward (54) has pleaded not guilty to the murder of his wife Catherine Ward (41) at their home on Greenfort Drive, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 on March 1st, 2019. He has also pleaded not guilty to an offence of making a threat to kill or cause serious harm to Adam Ward, intending him to believe that the threat would be carried out and has pleaded not guilty to attempting to stab Adam Ward on the same date.

Adam Ward told prosecuting counsel Bernard Condon SC that he grew up in Killinarden in Tallaght but they moved to Clondalkin after the incident with the Samurai sword.

He said there were always “problems and fights” between his parents. When the arguments became physical it was usually “pushing and dragging,” he said, but “there were times Alan would punch my mother”. His father had stopped working some years earlier, he said adding: “It got to my ma. She wanted to give us the best and it was hard with no money and that started a lot of the arguments.”

Adam said he also felt that his father would antagonise his mother and when she tried to get away he would follow her. “He would push her until she left and then he wouldn’t leave her alone,” he said. When she wanted to go out with friends he wouldn’t let her, the witness said, and when she went to the shops he would go with her. He said: “I don’t know what it was, he didn’t trust her or whatever.”

Drunk

He said both his parents drank and described his mother as a “happy drunk” who would want to dance and have a laugh. His father, he said, was “sloppy” when he drank and would “get sick, fall over, just go too far.”

In 2017, he said his father had a stroke which affected his speech and required him to attend classes to learn how to talk. He added: “That’s what we thought, but we would hear him talking to the neighbours properly. His speech wasn’t always jumbled. When he was speaking to the neighbours my ma would say, ‘he is speaking perfectly.‘”

He remembered his mother leaving the family home 15 to 20 times following arguments over the years but she would always come back. By March 2019 his father was sleeping in the sitting room and his mother slept in an upstairs bedroom.

On the night of his mother’s death, Adamsaid he was in his own room upstairs playing his Playstation when he heard a bang. He said he thought his parents were fighting and when he went out to the landing to check he saw his father standing in the doorway to his mother’s bedroom.

He couldn’t see inside the room but saw his father “pushing downwards”. Adam put his hand on his father’s shoulder and said: “What are you doing?” When his father turned, Adam said he noticed a small blade in his hand but he couldn’t see the handle. He remembered his father saying something like: “Get the f**k away from me or I’m going to kill you.” He said his father “swiped” at him with the blade, across from Adam’s right shoulder to left hip, and then “lunged” at him with the knife.

He said: “I was just confused. I just reacted, I pushed him away with my hands and I think that’s why I didn’t get stabbed. I fell against the wall. I was obviously shocked and stumbling and I ran down the stairs.” He said his father followed him so he quickly unlocked the front door and ran outside. He saw three people and ran towards them and told them what had happened. When he looked back he saw his father in the front garden. He shouted at his father and his father shouted back.

Samurai

Under cross-examination the witness told Giollaiosa O’Lideadha SC, for the defence, that his parents were not heavy drinkers but would drink a 700ml bottle of vodka between them over two nights while watching television together. He further agreed that in his statement to gardai he said that after the incident with the Samurai sword he thought his father “could do it again but just never thought he wold do it to my ma.”

He disagreed with a suggestion that his father’s actions towards him on the night were just a reflection of anger or rage. He said: “There was always tension between us so I think it was intentional. I don’t think it was just rage.” He said he was not friendly with his father since the incident with the sword and didn’t speak to him. He agreed that his mother had on occasion hit his father but said that happened “very rarely”. He further agreed that his mother was “pissed off” about his father not working.

When Mr O’Lideadha put it to him that he couldn’t say what started the argument on the night of his mother’s death, he replied: “I know how my mam is and I know how he would speak to her. The conversations they would have, where he would be insulting her and putting her down.” He said his mother wasn’t allowed to do the things she wanted. “I think she just felt trapped,” he said.

Adam’s brother Martin Ward (24) told Mr Condon that his parents would argue but “most of the time it was grand”. His father’s stroke, he said, affected everyone in the family but his father was still “well enough”. He said there were physical arguments between them but they were not one-sided. He added: “They would argue and then that would be the end of it.” He remembered an occasion when gardai were called after his mother threw something at his father and chased him up the stairs.

On the night his mother died, he said his parents seemed “grand” and he didn’t sense anything wrong. He went to bed and woke up when gardai came into his room. As he walked downstairs he noticed blood on the stairs.

‘I’m sorry’

Garda Kerry Harmon said that she arrived at the house at about 12.30am. Mr Ward was in his garden and she overheard him say: “I’m sorry, we had a row, I love her.” He seemed calm at that point, she said. After he was cautioned by another garda, Gda Harmon heard Mr Ward say: “I’m sorry. I stabbed her. We had a row. we are always fighting.” She also noted him saying: “She hit me, I was telling her to stop hitting me. She picked up a bottle.” Gda Harmon remembered that Mr Ward pointed to his face to show where he had been hit, but she didn’t see any obvious bruising. She heard him say that he picked up a knife and stabbed her. He added: “I hope she’s not dead. I didn’t mean to do it.”

At that point he became incoherent and upset, repeating words that didn’t make any sense, the garda said. The witness told Mr O’Lideadha that she didn’t know Mr Ward before this incident and had never heard him speak before. She agreed that he was agitated before the caution was issued and became more agitated as things went on.

The trial continues in front of Mr Justice Tony Hunt and a jury of nine men and three women.