Sligo murder trial: Keith Brady guilty of murder

Jury takes just 85 minutes to find accused guilty of murdering Martin ‘Matt’ Kivlehan

It was Keith Brady’s third time on trial for the murder of Martin ‘Matt’ Kivlehan (pictured).

It was Keith Brady’s third time on trial for the murder of Martin ‘Matt’ Kivlehan (pictured).


A man has been found guilty of murder after he stabbed a musician to death and then ordered heroin while his victim’s body lay on the floor. Keith Brady (32), of Cartron Estate, Sligo, had denied murdering Martin “Matt” Kivlehan on August 2nd or 3rd, 2015, at Mr Kivlehan’s home at New Apartments, Holborn Street, Sligo.

His plea of guilty of manslaughter was rejected by the Director of Public Prosecutions. It took a jury just one hour and 25 minutes to find him guilty of murder following a two-week trial at the Central Criminal Court.

It was Brady’s third time on trial for the same offence. Previously a jury could not agree a verdict and a second trial collapsed after an RTÉ Prime Time programme aired opinions that the trial judge said were likely to have influenced the jury.

In a statement to the court on Monday the victim’s brother, Christopher Kivlehan, said there are no words to adequately describe what it is like to cope with the violent death of a loved one. He added: “We are deeply shocked and absolutely appalled at the vicious and most evil manner of his death.”

He said ill-health had made his brother an easy target. The trial heard that the deceased had had an accident which damaged his leg and was “grossly intoxicated” at the time of his death. In the months prior to his death he had been drinking heavily and had become weak.

In his statement Christopher Kivlehan addressed a line of defence that was used in the previous trials but not in this one. In his previous trials Brady’s legal team had argued that he was “provoked” after seeing Martin Kivlehan “touch up” his sister Janice Brady.

“To see his beautiful character besmirched in headlines was cruel. We utterly reject and will never believe the suggested version of events that led to his death,” said Christopher Kivlehan. He said Martin lived “at all times with respect for others . . . Our dear brother was a gentleman and we have no doubt he was a gentleman to the time of his death.”

He was, said Christopher Kivlehan, a “pacifist who would go out of his way to avoid confrontation”. The family, he said, have sleepless nights and “can only imagine how frightened he must have felt . . . we will never understand and will not forgive those responsible.”

Mr Kivlehan said he remembered his brother as a man who “shared so much joy, laughter and love through his music, quick wit and kind nature. His life should never have ended the way it did.”

Since the death the family has buried another brother, Pádraic, who died of a heart attack, said Christopher Kivlehan.

“We have no doubt stress was a contributing factor in his death.”

He concluded: “Whatever sentence is given will be nothing compared to the sentence our family has been given to bear for the rest of our lives.”

Two years ago Janice Brady (29), with a last address at Maryville Hostel, Finisklin, Sligo, pleaded guilty to impeding the apprehension or prosecution of her brother, knowing or believing that he was guilty of a killing.

Following the guilty verdict on Monday Mr Justice Alex Owens thanked the jury and exempted them from further service for five years. He sentenced Brady to the mandatory term of life imprisonment.

The sentence is backdated to November 24th, 2016, when Brady first went into custody.

Trial evidence

The jury heard that Martin Kivlehan lived alone at New Apartments in the centre of Sligo. He was, according to several witnesses, a talented musician and banjo player who had regular visitors to his home and a close relationship with his brother Christopher.

In the period prior to his death he had suffered ill-health after an accident that damaged his leg. Despite the efforts of his brother he had stopped looking after himself and was drinking heavily. On the evening before his death he was last seen at about 10pm in a Mace store beside his home, where he had earlier that evening bought two bottles of cider.

His body was discovered by one of his friends in his apartment the following morning or early afternoon. A pathologist would say that he had suffered two stab wounds, one to either side of his neck. The stab wound to the right severed an artery and caused his death. His apartment had been ransacked and burned tinfoil wrappers suggested someone had been smoking heroin.

Brady was seen on CCTV in the area and gardaí arrested him later that day. The defence argued that Brady was so intoxicated at the time of the stabbing that he was unable to form an intention to kill or cause serious injury. In his closing speech to the jury Paul Murray SC, for the prosecution, said the accused was “well able” to make a myriad of other decisions before and after the killing that were “deliberate and intentional”.

He told the jury Brady stayed at the scene in the aftermath of Martin Kivlehan’s death while a knife was placed next to the victim’s neck and a duvet put over him to make it look like suicide.

“Mr Brady didn’t stop that – that was a decision,” said Mr Murray. He said there were two knives, the one found at the neck of Mr Kivlehan and a larger knife in the kitchen, which had the deceased’s blood on it and which a pathologist said was most likely the one used to inflict the fatal wound. He told the jury that was evidence of a decision to swap the knives. Mr Murray said Mr Brady made a decision “knowingly, deliberately, intentionally and consciously” to not leave after the death of Mr Kivlehan and to phone a drug dealer so he could get heroin brought to the house.

Counsel said the next day Brady intentionally changed the clothes he was wearing on the night of the killing but lied to gardaí that he was wearing the same clothes. Mr Murray said the accused was also able to make intentional decisions after he was arrested.

Mr Murray said the evidence showed Mr Kivlehan stood no chance of survival whatsoever on the night of his death due to his level of intoxication, physical issues and the age and height deferential between the two men.

“Individually but also collectively these show compelling evidence that Mr Brady on the night in question knew exactly what he was doing,” he said.