Nadine Lott murder accused told gardaí he was ‘punching like mad’, trial hears

Jurors spend day listening to third and fourth Garda interviews in Daniel Murtagh trial

The jury has heard that Nadine Lott suffered ‘severe blunt force trauma’ and stab injuries at the hands of her former partner.

The jury has heard that Nadine Lott suffered ‘severe blunt force trauma’ and stab injuries at the hands of her former partner.

 

A boxer accused of murdering his former partner Nadine Lott told gardaí he was “pounding” her and “punching like mad”, and that if he had wanted to kill her he would have, his trial has heard.

When asked by gardaí how his hands were not badly damaged, Daniel Murtagh said he had “boxed for years and my knuckles are conditioned”.

“I knew she was with a lad in Arklow and I was just trying to get it out of her,” he added.

The trial heard Mr Murtagh told officers: “You’re trying to paint a picture of me trying to kill Nadine; if I wanted to kill her I’d kill her.”

The jurors spent Wednesday listening to the third and fourth Garda interviews in the trial of Mr Murtagh, who is charged with murdering his 30-year-old ex-partner on December 17th, 2019.

Mr Murtagh (34), of Melrose Grove, Bawnogue, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Ms Lott at her apartment in St Mary’s Court, Arklow, Co Wicklow. His plea was not accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and he is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

The jury has heard that Ms Lott suffered “severe blunt force trauma” and stab injuries at the hands of her former partner “in a sustained and violent attack” in her Arklow home. They have heard evidence that the injuries to Ms Lott were so serious that she never regained consciousness and died three days later in St Vincent’s hospital, Dublin.

In his third interview with gardaí on December 15th, Mr Murtagh was shown a photograph of his Volvo car following a traffic collision he had in Laragh the previous morning at 7.30am, several hours after assaulting Nadine. “That’s my car, Jesus I hit a tree I could have been killed. I see someone being very lucky, that was my car, I was very lucky,” he said, adding he “did not have a notion” of how he got there.

When asked where he had been for those three hours after leaving Nadine’s house in Arklow and before the crash, Mr Murtagh replied: “I haven’t a clue, all I can say is I must have been driving around. If I hadn’t hit the tree I would have driven to the Garda station, I knew I hit Nadine, I knew I had to face the music.”

The accused said he got “an awful fright” and “s**t himself” after seeing blood coming from his ex-girlfriend’s nose and lips. “There was an awful lot of blood. She was breathing when I left, I knew she was alive,” he added.

Previous evidence

He told gardaí that if he had wanted to kill Nadine “she would be gone”.

Asked about the comment he made to a motorist about his friend being with Ms Lott, he said: “I don’t know, there is no friend.” Moments later he told gardaí that anytime they would break up, Ms Lott would “run” to this other named man, who he said she went out with for years.

Evidence has previously been given that Mr Murtagh told a motorist that he had “killed my wife because she was with my friend”, just hours after he assaulted her.

John Begley testified last week that he saw a car in a ditch as he was travelling over Bookies Bridge in Laragh on the morning of December 14th and then came across the accused man standing at the side of the road. “Daniel said to me ‘you don’t know what I’ve done’. I said ‘what did you do?’ He said ‘I killed my wife’. I didn’t think anything of it. He said it a second time and said he hoped she was not dead. He said ‘she was with my friend’,” recalled Mr Begley.

When asked about an “object” on the floor of Ms Lott’s sitting room, Mr Murtagh said it was a butter knife, which he had used to cut up a burger and a battered sausage that evening.

He denied hitting Ms Lott with a “big stand-up mirror” in the sitting room. The intensive-care nurse previously told the jury that there were a lot of shards of reflective glass in the deceased’s hair and her nose was continuously bleeding.

When gardaí put it to Mr Murtagh that something must have “went on” in the kitchen, the accused insisted that the altercation took place in the sitting room and said he could not tell them anymore.

“How does the frame of the mirror end up in the kitchen and in the bedroom?” asked the gardaí. In reply he said: “I don’t know, it all happened in the sitting room. She was still on the sitting-room floor when I left. She must have walked into the kitchen after I left, unless she walked in there and collapsed, everything I did was in the sitting room. There was a big pool of blood around her head in the sitting room.”

Mr Murtagh said he was in “a bit of a frenzy” that night and had hit Nadine with both hands. He said he could have hit her about eight times and might have hit her in the body.

Ms Lott was alive and “well conscious” when he left the apartment, he remarked.

In his fourth interview on December 16th, Mr Murtagh said he was a “million per cent sure” Ms Lott was wearing clothes during the incident and was “not nude or anything”.

Considerable anger

He repeated he was lying on the sofa and woke up when he heard her shouting and screaming. “I gave her a slap and she went back and on to the ground beside the cabinet,” he said. He said the assault lasted for between three and four minutes and Ms Lott was talking when he left the apartment.

At one stage, Mr Murtagh said he was expecting to “make love” to his “girlfriend” when she returned home that night and not for an argument to start. He said he was “pissed off” and there was “a lot of anger”.

He denied hitting Ms Lott with anything other than his fists and said he stood over her and was “pounding over her with digs”.

“I was hitting her for 10 seconds, it wasn’t four minutes,” he said.

He said he didn’t think it was “as bad” until he saw the blood coming out of her.

The accused told gardaí that “she loves me and I love her” and the pair had been back seeing each other for the past six or seven weeks. “This is the relationship we were keeping under the radar, we were going to break news to her family over the Christmas,” he said.

Detectives put it to Mr Murtagh there were “drag marks” on the carpet. Mr Murtagh asked how there could be drag marks saying: “I don’t know how she got into the kitchen, she was probably dazed.”

The accused told gardaí that Ms Lott’s eyes were moving and he thought she would get up before he left the apartment that morning. “What am I after doing, I hit her harder than I thought,” he said, blaming drink and drugs for putting him in this position.

Addressing gardaí he said: “Is the torture over now, there’s the story, I hit my girlfriend too hard, just in the sitting room, that’s all I have to say.”

Mr Murtagh said his head was “fried, you thinking this is all premeditated, it wasn’t. I was drunk. In my head it wasn’t me, it was me standing over her but in my head it wasn’t me.”

Worst assault seen

He said he had just hit Ms Lott with his hand and if he had really wanted to kill her “let’s be fair I’d go to kill her”. He also said if he had wanted to kill Ms Lott, he could have. “I just intended to give her a few slaps. I’m telling you I didn’t stab her,” he said.

Asked how lifeless Ms Lott was when he left, he said she “wasn’t near gone or anything. I didn’t think she was critical.”

He later said he had part of a wire from a charger wrapped around his hand and had hit Ms Lott with it. “It was long and getting in the way when I was hitting her, I stood on it and broke it and wrapped the rest of it around my hand,” he said.

The detectives told him that paramedics believed it was the worst assault they had ever seen. “Don’t think I’m sitting here thinking I’m going to walk out scot-free. If I was sober I probably wouldn’t have done it, it was the drinks and drugs,” he said.

When asked by detectives how his hands were not “badly damaged”, Mr Murtagh said he had boxed for years and his knuckles were conditioned. “I can’t believe I did that,” he concluded.

The trial continues on Thursday before Mr Justice Michael MacGrath and a jury.