Two men sentenced to life for Cork murder


Two men were jailed for life today for the murder of Cork man two years ago.

After deliberating for almost seven hours, a Central Criminal Court jury unanimously found Keith O'Donovan (29) of Spriggs Road, Gurranabroher, Cork and James Hourigan (32) of Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny, Cork guilty of the murder of Mr Noel McCarthy (28) on May 4th, 2000.

The court heard that O'Donovan, a single father of a six-year-old son, has 17 previous convictions dating back to 1989. A number of convictions were for assault, including assault with a knife and assault with intent to rob.

Six weeks ago, Cork Circuit Court sentenced Keith O'Donovan to 12 years imprisonment for armed robbery, an offence that pre-dated the murder of Mr McCarthy. He was in custody throughout the murder trial. However, sources have confirmed that he attempted to escape from custody and had to be restrained by prison officers and gardai in the Four Courts.

The court heard that James Hourigan has eight previous convictions for offences including the unlawful possession of a knife and assault.

The jury had heard that Keith O'Donovan stabbed Mr McCarthy in the hallway of his home after a row.

The prosecution case was that the two accused were involved in a joint venture to kill or seriously injure Mr McCarthy. The court heard that Keith O'Donovan and James Hourigan spent the best part of May 3rd drinking in pubs in Cork city. At closing time, they brought drink to Mr McCarthy's home but he refused to let them in as he had other friends in the house.

In evidence, O'Donovan admitted he was "annoyed" at this as he had bought drink for Mr McCarthy throughout the previous weekend. An argument erupted outside the McCarthy house and the victim got a bloodied nose.

A short time later, he went up to the O'Donovan house, five doors away, where James Hourigan hit him over the head with a beer bottle.

Keith O'Donovan's evidence, which conflicted with that of Mrs Mary McCarthy, the victim's mother, was that Mr McCarthy again arrived at the O'Donovan home "shouting and roaring". He admitted that he grabbed a knife and pursued Mr McCarthy to his home, where he pushed in the door and stabbed him in the groin.

James Hourigan admitted being there when his co-accused attacked Noel McCarthy, but denied being part of a joint enterprise to kill or seriously injure him.