Man convicted of manslaughter over deaf man's death

 

A Co Clare man accused of murdering a young deaf man whose badly beaten body was found in a lonely boreen was yesterday convicted of manslaughter.

After deliberating for almost 11 hours, the jury returned a majority verdict against Michael Sage (26), Glenacre, Killaloe, for killing John Carroll (22), Cappamore, Co Limerick, on December 4th, 1998, at Garraun, Newport, Ballinahinch, Tipperary.

As they left the Central Criminal Court, members of Mr Carroll's family, who were visibly upset, said they were "bitterly disappointed" with the verdict.

Sage had pleaded guilty to manslaughter and to a second charge of false imprisonment but denied murder.

The three-week trial heard evidence that Mr Carroll was beaten to death with a heavy iron ratchet. He had sustained severe blunt-force trauma to the head coupled with several fractures and lacerations.

The court heard that Mr Carroll lay in the boreen for several hours before being found by a farmer out feeding cattle.

It also heard that Sage and another man, William Roche, rummaged through the victim's pockets as he lay dead or dying to "scavenge" what they could find.

In March, Roche of Millstream, Killaloe, Co Clare, was convicted of Mr Carroll's murder. The court also heard that Ms Deirdre Rose, who is now married to Sage, was also convicted, but the Court of Criminal Appeal quashed her conviction.

The prosecution said Sage was involved in a joint enterprise with Roche to rob and assault Mr Carroll. On the night of the murder, he had travelled from Limerick to Clare with Mr Bernadette Fitzgerald, Roche's girlfriend. Mr Carroll worked with her in the National Development Training Institute in Limerick.

The jury had heard that Mr Carroll, Roche and Sage met in a local pub, where Mr Carroll bought drinks throughout the evening and they believed he was "flush".

At midnight, they left the pub and went to a house in Clarisford Estate owned by Ms Anne Marie Fitzgerald, Bernadette's sister, where they discussed whether Mr Carroll should pay £50 or £30 to stay the night on the sofa. Mr Carroll left the house and Sage admitted that he kneed him in the chest.

The court heard that Roche kicked Mr Carroll as he lay on the grass. They brought him back into the house and put him on the sofa, where he wrote 999 with his finger.Sage then put him in the back of his car alongside Roche. In the car Roche assaulted Mr Carroll repeatedly, demanding his wallet and PIN number.

Sage was remanded on continuing bail for sentencing on July 26th.