Man goes on trial for Co Clare murder

Colm Deely accused of killing Deirdre McCarthy in 2011

Colm Deely outside the Central Criminal Court, Mr Deely (41) of School Road in Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, has  pleaded not guilty to murdering Deirdre McCarthy in March 2011. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Colm Deely outside the Central Criminal Court, Mr Deely (41) of School Road in Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Deirdre McCarthy in March 2011. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A 41-year-old Clare man has gone on trial at the Central Criminal Court, charged with murdering a woman in Co Clare two years ago.

Colm Deely of School Road in Ballyvaughan has pleaded not guilty to murdering his 43-year-old friend, Deirdre McCarthy, between 11pm on March 27th, 2011 and noon the following day.

Ms McCarthy’s body was found washed up on Fanore Beach a few days later. She had been strangled.

Her best friend, Karen McGann, testified today that she dropped Ms McCarthy home to Turlough House outside Ballyvaughan on Sunday, March 27th. They had been socialising with friends including the accused in a pub in the village.

She said she lived across the road from Ms McCarthy, who was to help her spring clean her guest house the following morning. She said she became concerned when she couldn’t get through to her by phone after she failed to show up.

She said she went across to Ms McCarthy’s home and noticed that her bedroom curtains were closed, something she said was unusual for her friend.

Ms McGann had a spare key and let herself in to search for her friend. She noticed the clothes she was wearing the night before were by her bed.

She also drove around the village looking for Ms McCarthy and phoned a number of friends, including the accused.

“I rang him to see had he seen Deirdre, had he picked her up or given her a lift,” she said. “He said she’d probably gone off for coffee: ‘She’ll probably turn up soon’.”

She said she also met Mr Deely in the village twice that day and aired her concerns about their friend. She said he told her not to worry and that she would turn up. She said Mr Deely did not join her in the searches for their friend and never contacted her once the alarm was raised.

She said Ms McCarthy didn’t drive or have a car but would never walk alone after dark. She would get lifts from herself or Mr Deely, she explained.

Ms McCarthy’s sister, Christina Costello, said that she called the gardai that afternoon after Ms McGann contacted her. She said she also checked a vacant house where her sister had previously worked.

“I got the key from Colm Deely… I knew he had been working there,” she said. “I told him we couldn’t find her.”

Ms McCarthy’s brother, Thomas McCarthy, testified that Colm Deely rang him about lunchtime that Monday to see if his sister was at home with her mother. “I said no,” he recalled. “I didn’t know she was missing then.”

He said he and Mr Deely then went to trim a tree together, as they had previously planned. He said he did not then see the accused for two days and Mr Deely was not with him on the searches for his sister.

Paul Greene SC, prosecuting, had told the jury Deely was the last person to see Ms McCarthy alive and gardai had spoken to him.

He said Mr Deely had contacted his sister the day after Ms McCarthy’s body was found. He was intoxicated and had self-harmed and had conversations with family members about the discovery, he said.

Mr Greene said there was mobile phone contact between the deceased and the accused, finishing at 5am on the 28th. “There’ll be evidence that he was in Turlough House,” he added.

He said a pathologist would tell the jury Ms McCarthy died from asphyxia, strangulation and blunt force trauma, including blows to her head, trunk and extremities. “The prosecution say you’ll be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Deely is responsible for the unlawful killing of Deirdre McCarthy, in circumstances where he intended to kill or cause serious injury,” he said.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Barry White and a jury of seven women and five men.