Former girlfriend of murder defendant tells of relationship

 

Garda witnesses told a murder trial jury in the Central Criminal Court in Dublin yesterday of the bloodstained scene of a double murder they came upon at a two-storey house five miles outside Castlerea, Co Roscommon, last year.

Before the court is Mr Mark Nash (25), whose last address was at Clonliffe Road, Drumcondra, Dublin. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of the murder of Mrs Catherine Doyle (28) and Mr Carl Doyle (29), at Caran, Ballintober, Castlerea, Co Roscommon, on August 16th, 1997.

He has also denied a further count of unlawfully and maliciously causing grievous bodily harm, with intent, to Ms Sarah Jane Doyle (19), his former girlfriend.

Cross-examined by defence counsel Mr Gregory Murphy SC Ms Doyle said she had "no idea" why Mr Nash had assaulted her on the fatal night and did not know why he had turned from a Dr Jekyll into a Mr Hyde.

Continuously shaking and crying during her testimony, which was interrupted three times for respite, Ms Doyle told prosecution counsel Mr Michael Durack SC that in the first week of April last year she and one of her sisters went to a night-club in Harcourt Street, Dublin.

It was her first time out since the birth of her baby boy three weeks previously. In the nightclub, she bumped into Mr Nash on her way to the bar. Earlier she had seen him dancing and thought he was "a good-looking bloke".

The pair struck up a conversation and discovered they both were the parents of young babies. They arranged to meet the next day and spent the afternoon strolling between a coffee house and St Stephen's Green, with their babies' buggies.

Mr Nash told her he was from Leeds in England, where his mother lived, and that he had grandparents living in Mayo. He worked as an advertising tele-salesperson in Dublin.

They began to meet regularly and the relationship "got serious enough in a very short period," Ms Doyle said.

After giving birth she was conscious her body had changed; she had stretch marks from the birth and she thought no one would be interested in her, she told the jury.

"He told me he loved me and I latched on to him," she said, ". . . because I was ashamed, I was after having a baby."

Shortly afterwards, the couple moved with his baby daughter and her son into a flat in Manor Street, Stoneybatter, but conditions there forced them to move again to a house in Clonliffe Road, which they shared with two others.

"Everything was fine. We all got on well at first," she said. They had their normal arguments "over stupid things" but the accused had never been violent to her.

But an argument developed on Wednesday, August 13th, last year over her wish to move again.

Her brother, Richard, had died in June, she said, and she wanted to live near her family.

"Mark said the family would be at the door all the time and he didn't want to travel all the way from Clonsilla to work."

Her house-mate intervened in the argument, and Mr Nash began screaming at her about her weight and her teeth, which were prominent. The house-mate did not want to stay and left the house. The accused then followed Ms Doyle upstairs, where the argument continued.

"He got really angry then, and took the television and some chairs and started kicking them." The television was broken and Mr Nash had also punched the wall, she said.

Mr Nash did not hit her, Ms Doyle said, but she was "angry and scared at the time".

She then decided to go down to Roscommon to visit her sister that weekend. "I hadn't seen her since my brother died and I wanted a break as well," she told the court.

Mr Nash readily agreed and he collected her and the babies by taxi on Friday, August 15th, 1997, to take the train to Castlerea.

Her sister, Catherine, and brother-in-law, Carl, had moved to Roscommon under the Rural Resettlement Programme. Before that they had lived in a flat on the North Circular Road and then in Darndale, but her sister "didn't want to rear the children in Dublin". She wanted to bring them up "in a place that wasn't dangerous".

The weekend visitors were collected from the station by Mr Carl Doyle, and after stopping to buy alcohol in Ballintober, they arrived at the house, where her sister was waiting at the door.

The four "chatted away" in the living room, the Doyles' four children sleeping upstairs, the two babies left to "roll around for a while on the floor" in the living room.

Mark Nash and Carl Doyle had shared a bottle of American whiskey, while Catherine drank vodka and Sarah Jane cider. She had not smoked cannabis joints, but the others had.

The witness broke down as she was asked to identify photographs of the party, most taken by Mr Nash with a camera he had brought for the visit.

She described her brother-in-law,, Carl, falling asleep "after 11, I think . . . after having a few drinks". Later, Catherine Doyle went to make chips in an electric deep-fat fryer sited off the dining room, and Sarah Jane herself went to check on Mr Nash, who had been gone to the toilet for some 10 or 15 minutes.

She was not sure, she told Mr Durack, but she thought this was "near 12 o'clock".

Mr Nash was in the toilet getting sick at this stage. Apart from this, he "seemed OK. He said he was all right".

She returned to butter bread where her sister was making the chips and they were there for 15 or 20 minutes. But she began to feel tired and she and her sister went upstairs to get a mattress for the two babies.

Then, as she and Catherine were in the main bedroom, "Mark came up the stairs and came into the bedroom and started hitting me on the head".

"I put my hand to my face and there was all blood on them." She was screaming and Catherine was calling for Carl.

"He kept hitting me," she told the court, "I was just terrified. I didn't know what was happening.

"He told me that I had to die. He said it a few times. He kept saying it.

"Catherine pulled him off me and then it just all went black," she continued. When she awoke after passing out she found Catherine no longer there, "and then Mark came back in again and started hitting me again".

He hit her on the head and arms, she said. She screamed at him to stop and asked why he was doing this. But he told her to get up, and then when her legs wouldn't move, "he pushed me to the stairs".

"I was lying face down, he was laughing at me," she said.

She was not sure whether she was kicked or pushed down the stairs, but she fell to the foot of the stairs.

"Then I stopped screaming and just lay there in the hope that he was going to leave me alone."

She stayed there for a while. When she opened her eyes again, Mr Nash was not there and she crawled through the kitchenette to the back door and out to long grass near a shed at the back of the house. "I was lying there, trying to be as quiet as I could. I was afraid he was going to come after me," she said.

She eventually dragged herself to a neighbour's house.