Teenager guilty of killing man he said abused him


A TEENAGER with intellectual difficulties has been found guilty of killing the pensioner he claimed sexually abused him when he was younger.

Brendan McGovern (19), Carrigallen, Leitrim, was on trial at the Central Criminal Court, charged with murdering John Golden (76) in Co Cavan on October 6th, 2010.

McGovern pleaded not guilty but admitted assaulting the pensioner in his home in Nedd, Doogarry, Killeshandra.

The jury found him not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter after two hours of deliberating.

The five-day trial heard that the pensioner was brought to hospital on September 7th, 2010, after a neighbour found him unconscious under his bed in his prefabricated house. He died of septicaemia and other hospital-related complications a month later.

The teenager said he had gone to Mr Golden’s home to confront him about his continued taunts. However, he said Mr Golden presumed he had arrived for sex and handed him a condom and took off his trousers.

McGovern said this made him angry, that he put the condom on his fist and punched the pensioner in the rear before kicking and beating him.

The trial heard Mr Golden had been the subject of a Garda investigation during the 1990s when he admitted showing pornographic videos to teenage boys.

The trial also heard from a clinical psychologist who said McGovern would have difficulties thinking through the consequences of his actions due to borderline intellectual functioning.

The prosecution had argued that even if the jury took the view that Mr Golden had interfered with McGovern, no person had the right to take the law into his own hands.

“We don’t live in the wild west,” said Bernard Condon SC, prosecuting, in his closing speech. “If John Golden was a sex abuser, he was entitled to a fair trial. What he was not entitled to happen to him was to be beaten on the ground in his bedroom, violated in the way he was and left on the flat of his back for several hours.”

He assured the jury a verdict of murder was not an approval of sexual assault.

“You are not here to approve of the life of John Golden. You are here to decide if Brendan McGovern killed him. You are not here to right other wrongs.

“This is a difficult case. There’s sympathy swirling,” he said, adding such would not be helpful in their deliberations. He said there was ample evidence to convict the teenager of murder.

Patrick Gageby SC, defending, said there was no question of justifying a beating to someone, “no matter what he has done to you”.

“I’m not inviting you to apply emotional standards here, other than your knowledge of human nature, of young people being abused and how they might respond.”

He pointed out Mr Golden’s cause of death was given as a hospital-acquired illness and noted his original head and rectal injuries were healing when he died.

“The prosecution must prove that Brendan McGovern caused the death of John Golden in the legal sense,” he said.

After the jury found him guilty of manslaughter, Mr Justice Paul Carney remanded McGovern on continuing bail for sentencing in October.