Youth found guilty of killing teen by stabbing

 

A JURY AT the Central Criminal Court has found Finn Colclough not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter for stabbing to death another teenage student at Waterloo Road in Dublin.

Mr Justice Paul Carney yesterday remanded Colclough in custody before his sentencing on December 19th.

Finn Colclough (18), Waterloo Road, Dublin, was found not guilty of the murder of student Seán Nolan (18), Griffith Court, Fairview, but guilty of his manslaughter.

During the six-day trial the jury heard that both Colclough and Mr Nolan had been out on the night of May 25th, 2007. Mr Nolan was celebrating completing his secondary education and had gone out with friends after celebrations with teachers at St Joseph's CBS in Fairview and members of his family.

After a celebratory Mass they went to a local pub before Mr Nolan went into town where he met up with two friends, Eric Treacy and Ciarán Wogan. They went to Reds on O'Connell Bridge before moving on to the Bar Code night club in Clontarf.

After a couple of drinks they caught a taxi back into town but were refused entry to several places. After trying to return to Bar Code, which by this time had shut its doors, Mr Nolan suggested to the others that they go to the house of a girl he knew who lived in the Waterloo Road area.

It was now after 3am. On the way they stopped at a petrol station and bought a bottle of wine and some crisps.

Mr Wogan told the court that, on their way to Waterloo Road, they walked down a side street and saw lights on in a house. There was a man in the garden and they stopped to ask him whether there was a party. When he told them there wasn't, they moved on.

Colclough, meanwhile, had finished his school term at lunchtime the same day. He was a student in the Institute of Education near St Stephen's Green. He waited for a friend to finish an art project before going home to Waterloo Road.

Later that evening, Colclough, his friends, his mother and father, his brother and some of his brother's friends attended a 21st birthday party at Spy nightclub.

Colclough and his friends drank at the free bar in operation for the earlier part of the evening.

One of his friends, who gave evidence but cannot be named for legal reasons, said he thought he had drunk between eight and 14 drinks, a mixture of cocktails, wine and beer. He thought Colclough had roughly the same amount to drink. Another friend, who also cannot be named, said she had never seen Colclough so drunk.

When the nightclub closed at about 2am, Colclough and his friends went back to Waterloo Road. His parents went up to bed while his brother went to his room with some of his friends. Colclough and his two friends stayed in the downstairs kitchen.

His friends told the court that they spent a couple of hours hanging about and making sandwiches. One of his friends said she rolled a joint, which she and Colclough smoked on the steps of the house.

Colclough told gardaí that the three decided to take a walk down the street shortly before 4am. They left the house and started to walk towards town. Colclough was carrying three cans of deodorant, because, he told gardaí, he was sweaty after dancing at the party.

When they had walked a few feet away from the house they encountered Mr Nolan and his friends who crossed the road to meet them. Mr Nolan asked for directions to "Sarah's house".

Colclough told him they did know Sarah but that she had moved away. He gave them directions in the opposite direction. He and his friends said they felt uneasy after the meeting and returned to the house.

Mr Nolan and his friends stopped outside the house to try and open the bottle of wine. They gestured at the kitchen window in the hope of getting a bottle opener after Mr Treacy's keys broke trying to get the bottle open.

One of Colclough's friends said he saw the three outside and told Colclough they were still there. He responded "Oh shit." His other friend went outside to tell them to move on. Colclough then came running out shouting at them to "get the f*** away from my house". He was holding a knife in each hand.

Mr Nolan took several steps forward to meet him and "squared up" to Colclough. A brief struggle ensued. Mr Nolan was seen to raise his hand and push or strike Colclough. Colclough told gardaí that he tried to push Mr Nolan away from him. The knives were still in his hands.

Mr Nolan stepped back holding his chest and said: "I've been stabbed," before falling. Colclough continued to shout: "Get away from my house," before returning to the house.

He went to the sink to wash the blood off his hands and the knife, which he dried and put away. Colclough told gardaí that he had not meant to wash the knife, but it slipped into the sink while he was washing his hands. He went back outside where Mr Treacy shouted at him to call an ambulance.

Mr Nolan was pronounced dead on arrival at St Vincent's hospital. A postmortem showed he had suffered two stab wounds. The fatal injury had entered his body from the right, puncturing a lung and cutting into his heart.

The trial heard evidence from Dr Paul O'Connell, a consultant psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum. He told the jury that Colclough had dyslexia and had been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder at age nine or 10.

After the verdict, Mr Justice Carney referred to certain "prejudicial" reports published in some papers yesterday. He said he did not intend to take any action because the jury was aware that while the issue of manslaughter was live before it, so was the issue of an absolute acquittal.

He said the jurors had not had access to the published comments but given regard to the history of the case and the warnings he had given them about media coverage throughout, that if they had in fact read the material "the only conclusion they could have come to was, wasn't the judge dead right".

Mr Justice Carney thanked the jurors and excused them from jury service for the rest of their lives.