Murder trial told of car being rammed before fatal stabbing
Gary Watson (35) has pleaded not guilty to murdering Warren O’Connor (24) in 2010
Warren O’Connor was killed in January 2010 in north Dublin. Photograph: PA
A murder trial witness has described how she saw a former soldier become “real still” as he stared up at the sky from the roadway where he was fatally stabbed.
Gary Watson (35) is on trial at the Central Criminal Court accused of murdering Warren O’Connor (24) in north Dublin nine years ago.
Mr Watson also denies assaulting Philip Woodcock (34) causing him harm on the same occasion and producing a knife to intimidate another person in the course of a dispute.
The trial has previously heard that a fight ensued between two groups of men after Mr Woodcock removed the fuse and cut power to his neighbour’s apartment so a noisy house party would end and the occupants would leave.
Giving evidence on Thursday, Suzanne Martin told prosecution counsel James Dwyer SC that she had been living at the Grattan Wood apartment complex on Hole in the Wall Road in Donaghmede with her former partner Mr Woodcock and their son on the date in question.
At about 11pm that night she heard her neighbour Louise Kinsella and a few of her friends coming home for a party.
Her former partner went downstairs and took the fuse out in order to cut the power in the building before he drove to the local garage. Ms Martin said when he left she heard male voices ask Ms Kinsella for knives and comment that Mr Woodcock’s car was gone.
She said she rang Mr Woodcock to tell him not to come back to the apartment as these men were waiting for him. He returned to their apartment an hour later with his four friends who she knew — Graham Hogan, Jonathan Gunnery, Richard Grant and Warren O’Connor.
Ms Martin testified that she heard Mr Woodcock knocking on Ms Kinsella’s apartment and people began to fight. “I was looking out the spy hole of my apartment door and I could see people scuffling,” she said, adding that this lasted for up to 15 minutes.
The witness said Mr Woodcock had a black eye when he came back to their apartment and the men’s t-shirts were covered in blood. She said she just wanted to get her son out of the apartment and they all left to go to the carpark.
Ms Martin got into the back seat of her partner’s Ford Focus car and her son sat on her lap. Mr Woodcock did not get into the car at first as he was having an argument with the men in a Black Honda Civic car. “The black car tried to reverse and drive over him and then he got into the [Ford] car,” she said, adding that the other four men got in after him.
The Honda Civic followed their car onto Hole in the Wall Road, driving at a fast speed, trying to overtake them. The Honda Civic rammed the Ford Focus car three times before both cars “conked” out, she said. Mr Woodcock and his friends then got out of the car, she said.
Ms Martin saw Mr Woodcock run for the driver of the Honda Civic and said both he and Mr Grant were hitting him. The witness said Mr Hogan was hitting a man in the back of the Civic and Mr Gunnery was fighting with a man in the passenger side of the same car.
“I didn’t see Warren fighting with anyone when he got out of the car,” she said, adding that she saw him run towards the Trinity Sports and Leisure Club, but no one ran after him.
Mr Hogan shouted that Mr O’Connor had been knocked out as he was lying on the ground. One of the men drove the Ford Focus up to where the deceased was lying on the side of the road. Ms Martin said he was bleeding and his eyes were open as he made jerking movements.
“He just went real still and was just staring up at the sky,” she said, adding that his friends tried to talk to him.
Ms Martin said the men in her car did not have weapons but she saw that two of the men in the other group were each carrying a knife.
The witness was shown three “ProBlade” knives which she said came from her apartment.
Mr Woodcock earlier said his intention was to “beat the b******s out” of the driver who rammed his car. The former soldier called himself “a scumbag” for his actions on the night but denied that his intention had been to cause serious trouble.
Under cross-examination on Wednesday by Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, defending, Mr Woodcock accepted he had lied to the gardaí when he told them that a small potato peeler knife given to Mr Gunnery was left in the Ford Focus car.
However, Mr Woodcock said on Thursday that this was not a lie but an untrue statement. “I didn’t remember at the time and then I told gardaí when I remembered,” he said.
Mr Woodcock told Ms Lawlor that he knocked on his neighbour’s apartment door in order to “protect” himself from a “rowdy group”. He agreed that no one from the rowdy group had come near him but denied that his intention was to cause serious trouble or damage that night.
He told Ms Lawlor that if he had wanted to cause trouble on the night he would have called his friends “straight away” after cutting the fuse.
Mr Woodcock denied he was “well used” to using knives but agreed he had kept one underneath his mattress in case someone broke into his home. “It’s your last line of defence,” he indicated.
The witness accepted that he told gardaí his intention had been to “beat the b******s out” of driver of the Honda Civic car and his friends had backed him up on the night.
However, Mr Woodcock denied throwing blocks and bottles at the Honda Civic but told the jury it could have happened.
Mr Woodcock denied to the court that he had lied to gardaí in his statements but said: “‘I’m a scumbag for what I did that night.”
Mr Woodcock has given evidence that he earlier drove to a garage after cutting the fuse, when his partner called him to say that the party was louder. Mr Woodcock then called and picked up four friends before returning to his apartment complex.
The trial continues on Friday before Mr Justice Michael White and a jury of seven men and five women.