Teen sentenced to life for murder

Mon, Feb 4, 2013, 00:00

A Dublin teenager has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering another teenager, after luring him into a ‘fatal trap’ two years ago.

Marcus Kirwan had pretended to be a girl, when he sent text messages to David Byrne suggesting they meet on the night of March 19th, 2011.

When the 19-year-old arrived to meet the girl at a youth centre, he was set upon by Kirwan and a number of other youths, who chased him into a dead end at a Dublin apartment complex.

Kirwan (19) then stabbed Mr Byrne nine times, once in his face and eight times in his back. His heart and lungs were punctured and one of the fatal wounds was 20cm deep. Mr Byrne, who had lived at Davitt House in Drimnagh, died in hospital shortly afterwards.

Kirwan of Cooley Road, also in Drimnagh, pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Byrne at Emmet Court, Inchicore in Dublin.

However, the jury of seven men and five women reached a unanimous verdict of guilty, after deliberating for four hours and 13 minutes.

The Central Criminal Court trial heard from a number of residents of Emmet Court, who had seen the chase or assault.

These included Sonya Byrne, who picked Kirwan out of an identification parade as the person in a grey hoodie who was most closely chasing the victim.

Another resident, Thomas Quinn, said he saw somebody ‘digging’ the victim in the back, after chasing him into a dead end.

Imes Kmiecik said she saw three people running away from the scene and that the last person to leave had a 30cm knife.

The jury also watched CCTV footage of the chase, captured on various cameras between the youth centre and apartment complex.

Footage of St John Bosco Youth Centre in Drimnagh showed people running and hiding before Mr Byrne’s arrival into what the prosecution described as ‘an ambush’.

Further footage showed Mr Byrne being chased from there into Emmet Court by a number of youths, most closely by a man in a grey hooded tracksuit.

They both disappeared off camera for some time before the person in the grey hoodie reappeared and followed the other youths out of the complex.

A close-up and slowed-down shot of their backs was shown, in which the person in the grey hoodie looked back. A local garda had recognised this person as Kirwan.

Another camera showed Mr Byrne stagger into shot before falling to the ground and being helped by residents.

He was rushed by ambulance to St James’s Hospital, but died of multiple stab wounds shortly afterwards.

Kirwan was also captured on CCTV after the attack, at a take away in Drimnagh, where another youth pointed to something on his hoodie. The State suggested that this was blood.

Kirwan went outside and was seen taking off the hoodie before returning inside wearing a green and white rugby shirt. He was still wearing this shirt when arrested at his home two days later and it was an exhibit in the case.

Kirwan denied all involvement in the murder, but the State provided the jury with phone records, which showed he had been texting the victim pretending to be a girl called Sinead.

These, along with eye witness testimony and the CCTV footage, convinced the jury of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

There were gasps in court as Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan imposed the mandatory life sentence for murder on Kirwan, who showed no reaction as he was led away.

The judge adjourned hearing victim impact statements until next week.

However, Mr Byrne’s father, David Hayes, spoke afterwards of his joy and delight at the verdict.

“We’ve been waiting for this day for a very long time,” he said outside court. “Justice is done.”

He thanked the gardaí, jury, judge and barristers.

He also said he was very proud of his son.

“I wish that he’s happy up there now,” he said.

He explained that the victim’s mother, Ann Byrne, died a month after his murder.

“May she rest in peace and may David rest in peace with her,” said Mr Hayes.

The victim’s aunt, Angela Byrne, described her nephew as a gentle giant.

“He cared for his Mam, who had cancer,” she said of her sister. “He was just a lovely boy.”