Man (28) found guilty of manslaughter of Cork musician
Victim died two weeks after single punch assault outside Kanturk pub, court hears
O’Sullivan put his hands in his head and wept after the guilty verdict had been confirmed by the jury.
A 28-year-old man has been found guilty of manslaughter and remanded on bail for sentence over the death of a 65-year-old man he struck with a single punch outside a bar in Kanturk in Co Cork.
Jonathan O’Sullivan from Kanturk, but living at Birchfield Park, Goatstown, Dublin had pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Finbarr Lehane at the Stand Bar, the Square, Kanturk on October 23rd/24th, 2016.
On Wednesday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court a jury of nine men and three women took three hours and 41 minutes to find him guilty by a majority 11-1 decision of the unlawful killing of Mr Lehane.
A musician from Banteer, Mr Lehane, a father of six, died in Cork University Hospital on November 7th 2016, some two weeks after suffering serious head injuries in the assault.
Opening the case for the state earlier this week, prosecution barrister, Imelda Kelly BL said O’Sullivan and Mr Lehane were both out socializing in the Stand Bar in Kanturk on the night in question.
She told the jury in her outline of the case that both men had consumed a large amount of alcohol and “alcohol is certainly a feature of this case” which revolved around a single punch.
She said the state’s case would be that O’Sullivan threw a single punch, hitting Mr Lehane in the face and Mr Lehane fell backwards, hit the ground and lost consciousness which he never regained.
Witness Liz Angland who was working in the Stand Bar on the night in question told gardaí in a statement that Mr Lehane “hit the ground with an unmerciful crack”.
O’Sullivan told gardaí that the deceased had been “talking raiméis” [nonsense] into his ear at the counter of the bar and he decided to go out the back where Lehane again approached him
“I decided to go out the back. I don’t know what happened. I just drew a punch,” O’Sullivan told gardaí in an interview before adding in another Garda interview that Mr Lehane was “talking shite”.
Defence counsel Mary Rose Gearty SC said the accused was weeping throughout the interview with gardaí and this was only a day after the incident and a long time before Mr Lehane died in hospital.
During the trial which ran for three days at the Anglesea Street Courthouse, the jury heard evidence from Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster the cause of Mr Lehane’s death was complicated.
But prosecution barrister Imelda Kelly BL said the state was not under obligation to prove that the punch thrown by O’Sullivan was the sole cause, but rather that it was a real and substantial cause.
“It is an objectively dangerous act to strike a blow to the face of another person without warning. Mr Lehane was immediately felled by that blow. It was unprovoked and without warning,” said Ms Kelly.
Ms Gearty SC reminded the jury of how upset the accused was when he took the stand on Tuesday to give evidence and when he stated what happened had horrendous consequences for everybody.
Ms Gearty SC said obviously the most terrible consequences were for the late Mr Lehane and his relatives, but the jury had to decide whether the blow struck by O’Sullivan was objectively dangerous.
Prior to that, Dr Bolster had agreed with Ms Gearty that she did not find a single mark to the face of the deceased when she examined it a fortnight after the incident in the bar.
Dr Bolster also confirmed under cross examination by Ms Gearty that medical notes on the late Mr Lehane’s admission to CUH on the night in question made no reference to any mark on his face.
Ms Gearty said to the jury that the issue they had to decide was whether the blow struck by O’Sullivan was objectively dangerous and whether they had doubt about whether the blow was dangerous
“Do you have a doubt about whether it was objectively dangerous? What force was used to strike the blow? He left him without a mark. That must leave you at least with a reasonable doubt,” she said.
In the event the jury took just under four hours to find O’Sullivan guilty of the offence and the accused put his hands in his head and wept after the guilty verdict had been confirmed by the jury.
Judge Sean O Donnabhain adjourned sentence to allow for preparation of a Victim Impact Statement by Mr Lehane’s family and he remanded O’Sullivan on bail to appear again on February 28th for sentencing.