Mur­der trial hears of the fa­tal stab­bing of Dun­dalk taxi driver

MAN AC­CUSED OF MUR­DER­ING MAR­TIN MUL­LI­GAN ON TRIAL AT THE CEN­TRAL CRIM­I­NAL COURT

The Argus - - FRONT PAGE -

A Dun­dalk fa­ther of two who was found dead near his taxi in the early hours of the morn­ing had been beaten with a blunt ob­ject and stabbed in the leg and ab­domen, a mur­der trial has heard.

24-year-old Joseph Hillen, who is on trial for mur­der, ac­cepts that he stabbed the de­ceased but said he did it to pro­tect him­self.

Mr Hillen, of Glen­de­sha Road, Forkhill, Co Ar­magh pleaded not guilty to the mur­der of Mar­tin Mul­li­gan (53) at Carn­more, Bal­rig­gan, Dun­dalk, Louth on Septem­ber 28, 2015.

Open­ing the trial Mr. Pa­trick Treacy SC said the de­ceased, a mar­ried fa­ther of two now adult daugh­ters, worked as a taxi driver and some­times de­liv­ered coal and gas. On the night he died his last known move­ments were to drop four peo­ple to the Forkhill area at about 1.45am.

His body was found at 3:06am in the nearby town­land of Bal­rig­gan by three women. His taxi was about 66 paces from where his body lay. An au­topsy by Deputy State Pathol­o­gist Dr Michael Cur­tis re­vealed two stab wounds and a num­ber of in­juries to his head, torso and arms. Dr Cur­tis will tell the jury that the stab wound to his ab­domen, which was 22.5cm deep, sev­ered an artery and killed him within 30 sec­onds. The wound to his leg also sev­ered an artery and would have killed him within five min­utes. The blunt force in­juries to the rest of Mr Mul­li­gan’s body were in­flicted with an ob­ject other than the one used to stab him.

Mr Treacy went on to tell that the jury that the ac­cused man gave a num­ber of vol­un­tary in­ter­views to gar­dai in July of this year. In those state­ments he said he was driv­ing a Toy­ota Aven­sis that night which was in­volved in a chase with gar­dai fol­low­ing re­ports of some­one spin­ning their tyres on a street in Dun­dalk. Gar­dai were un­able to catch the Aven­sis but Mr Hillen, through his bar­ris­ter Bren­dan Gre­han SC, has ac­cepted that he was the driver.

In his state­ments Mr Hillen said that he was in the Toy­ota when he thought he saw Mr Mul­li­gan dump­ing rub­bish in an area be­long­ing to the ac­cused man’s friend and for­mer em­ployer. The owner of the land had pre­vi­ously com­plained to Louth County Coun­cil about il­le­gal dump­ing at the site. The ac­cused said he chased Mr Mul­li­gan for a time be­fore the taxi came to a halt and both Mr Hillen and Mr Mul­li­gan got out. The ac­cused said Mr Mul­li­gan then gave him a ‘closed fist punch to the face’ and a ‘wrestling match’ fol­lowed. An­other man who was with the ac­cused, who can­not be iden­ti­fied, got into the taxi and drove it into a nearby gate­way. He then took the keys to the taxi and threw them into a field. The ac­cused said Mr Mul­li­gan then went to his taxi and was ‘root­ing for some­thing’ be­fore com­ing back to the Toy­ota and get­ting into the driver’s seat. While Mr Mul­li­gan was sit­ting there the other man came to the Aven­sis and took a sewer rod from the pas­sen­ger side door and then used that to twice hit Mr Mul­li­gan around the shoul­ders and head while Mr Mul­li­gan was sit­ting in the car. Mr Treacy told the jury that one of the is­sues they would have to con­sider is whether it is cred­i­ble that Mr Mul­li­gan could have suf­fered the blunt force in­juries iden­ti­fied by the pathol­o­gist if he was sit­ting in the front seat of a car.

Mr Hillen’s state­ment went on to de­scribe the de­ceased get­ting out of the Toy­ota ‘in a rolling mo­tion’ and then Mr Hillen no­ticed he had a long, stain­less steel, kitchen knife in his hand. Mr Hillen said he tried to grab it and cut the palm of his own left hand. In the strug­gle, he ‘flipped the knife.’ He said he was be­ing struck on the head when he ‘jabbed out’ twice with the knife. He said he had no in­ten­tion of killing him, that he was try­ing to pro­tect him­self and that he ‘never meant to stab him above the belt,’ be­fore adding: ‘It just hap­pened so quickly.’

Mr Hillen said he took the knife and left the scene with the other man. When he found out two to four days later that Mr Mul­li­gan was dead, he drove with the other man to an area near Vic­to­ria Lock on the Newry River and one of them threw the knife out the pas­sen­ger side win­dow. The knife has not been found.

Mr Treacy said to re­turn a ver­dict of guilty the jury will have to be sat­is­fied beyond a rea­son­able doubt that Mr Hillen was not act­ing in self de­fence. Mr Gre­han said that his client ac­cepts that he in­flicted the two knife in­juries that caused Mr Mul­li­gan’s death.

Deputy State Pathol­o­gist Dr Michael Cur­tis fur­ther told the trial that an ac­count given by the ac­cused in which he said he was kneel­ing and us­ing the knife with a ‘ back­handed’ mo­tion would ac­count for the fa­tal in­juries sus­tained by the de­ceased.

Dr Cur­tis told prose­cut­ing coun­sel Pa­trick Treacy SC that he ex­am­ined Mr Mul­li­gan’s body at Our Lady of Lour­des Hospi­tal in Drogheda on the day he died. He found three lac­er­a­tions to the top of the head, caused by a blunt ob­ject. These in­juries, he said, had not dam­aged the skull and there was no ev­i­dence of in­jury to the brain, although they could have caused con­cus­sion.

In vol­un­tary state­ments given to gar­dai Mr Hillen said that his friend, who can­not be named, struck the de­ceased with a sewer rod be­fore the stab­bing. Dr Cur­tis said a sewer rod could ac­count for the in­juries to the head and he noted that the light weight of such an ob­ject could ex­plain why the skin was lac­er­ated but the skull was not in­jured.

Dr Cur­tis also iden­ti­fied two knife wounds as the cause of death. One knife wound to the lower ab­domen went to a depth of 22.5cm and sev­ered the ab­dom­i­nal aorta - the main artery in the body. The sec­ond stab wound went through the thigh slic­ing the quadri­ceps mus­cle and sev­er­ing the femoral artery. He de­scribed it as a ‘ through and through wound’ with the blade en­ter­ing on the out­side of the thigh and ex­it­ing on the in­side of the leg. Ei­ther wound, he said, would have caused Mr Mul­li­gan to bleed to death within min­utes.

The other 30 in­juries, he said, were mi­nor and would sug­gest Mr Mul­li­gan was in­volved in a strug­gle. He said one bruise to the chest could have been caused by a punch but added that this was spec­u­la­tion.

Der­mot McGeough, a friend of Mr Hillen, told Mr Treacy that he was with the ac­cused on the day be­fore the stab­bing. They drank some rum at Mr McGeough’s house, went to a pub for about one hour and then Mr Hillen drove Mr McGeough back home. On the way they were chased by gar­dai but Mr Hillen got away. The wit­ness said he wasn’t happy about the garda chase be­cause he feared every­one in the car would lose their li­cence.

Mr McGeough had known the ac­cused for about three years be­fore this in­ci­dent and said he had a lot of time for him. Mr Hillen, he said, would of­ten help him to clear rub­bish that was reg­u­larly il­le­gally dumped on his land.

The wife of a taxi driver who was stabbed to death while work­ing in the early hours has de­nied that her hus­band kept a kitchen knife in his car.

The mur­der trial has pre­vi­ously heard that the ac­cused told gar­dai that the de­ceased pulled a knife on him.

The de­ceased’s widow Grainne Mul­li­gan told prose­cut­ing coun­sel Pa­trick Treacy SC that she met her hus­band when they were teenagers and they mar­ried in 1986 af­ter dat­ing for nine years. He worked as a coal de­liv­ery man and in 2000, for ex­tra money, he started work­ing as a taxi driver. They had two daugh­ters who are now adults.

Her hus­band, she said, was con­cerned for his own safety and kept a bar on the floor of the taxi for pro­tec­tion. He also kept a small Swiss Army knife in the car. Un­der cross ex­am­i­na­tion, she agreed with de­fence coun­sel Bren­dan Gre­han SC that her hus­band was a ‘for­mi­da­ble’ man who would not back down in any sit­u­a­tion. She was wor­ried when he started work­ing as a taxi driver that he might come to blows with any­one who tried to rob him or cheat him. She agreed that in a state­ment to gar­dai she said he could be ‘ thick and wouldn’t back down in a con­fronta­tion’. He kept the bar, she said, as a weapon if he needed to use it.

Mr Gre­han put it to her that in Au­gust of this year, be­fore Mr Hillen told gar­dai that the de­ceased pulled a knife on him, she told gar­dai that her hus­band kept a small kitchen knife in his taxi which he used for pick­ing his teeth. She ac­cepted that she made an­other state­ment about two weeks later in which she said she had been mis­taken and that her hus­band in fact kept the kitchen knife in his coal lorry, not the taxi.

Mr Gre­han asked her if she changed her state­ment be­cause she re­alised it would be help­ful to the ac­cused man as it sup­ported his claim that it was the de­ceased who pro­duced the knife. She replied: ‘No. I didn’t re­alise that. That wouldn’t have en­tered my head.’

Un­der re-ex­am­i­na­tion she told Mr Treacy that the knife she was re­fer­ring to was a short knife she had pre­vi­ously used for peel­ing po­ta­toes. She said it would have been about the length of one third of an A4 page.

Ear­lier the trial heard from Sergeant Michael Ker­math of Dun­dalk Garda Sta­tion who told Mr Treacy that he was in Dun­dalk ear­lier on the night that Mr Mul­li­gan died, when a mem­ber of the pub­lic gave him the reg­is­tra­tion num­ber of a Toy­ota Aven­sis, driven by the ac­cused, that had been spin­ning its tyres out­side Ri­d­ley’s night­club.

When Sgt Ker­math and his col­league Garda Damien Fan­ning saw the car they put on their blue lights and fol­lowed but the Aven­sis did not stop. Sgt Ker­math said it sped er­rat­i­cally and dan­ger­ously through the town towards Marsh’s Shop­ping Cen­tre, broke two traf­fic lights and left the town. The pa­trol car fol­lowed un­til it be­came too dan­ger­ous and they be­lieved they would not catch up be­fore the border.

The jury of nine men and three women were then shown CCTV footage of the car spin­ning its tyres and speed­ing through the town.

Dur­ing the trial on Fri­day, mem­bers of Mar­tin Mul­li­gan’s fam­ily left the Cen­tral Crim­i­nal Court be­fore a jury were shown the heav­ily blood-stained jumper and t-shirt worn by the taxi driver on the night he was killed.

Prose­cut­ing coun­sel Pa­trick Treacy SC had warned that see­ing the cloth­ing could be dis­tress­ing.

Hold­ing up the cloth­ing for the jury to see, San­dra McGrath of Foren­sic Science Ire­land told Mr Treacy that she found heavy blood stain­ing on the front and back of the jumper and t-shirt. She fur­ther pointed out a cut and tear at the V of the jumper’s neck which she said is 19.5cm long. Mr Treacy, when he opened the trial ear­lier this week, said the cut in the neck would be­come ‘very im­por­tant ev­i­dence’ for the jury to con­sider.

Ms McGrath fur­ther re­vealed that a glove found near the scene had DNA match­ing Mr Hillen on its in­side and back. She ex­am­ined 18 blood drops found at the scene lead­ing to where Mr Mul­li­gan’s body was found. Two of them matched the ac­cused man’s DNA while the oth­ers matched that of Mr Mul­li­gan. Mr Hillen’s DNA was also found on the jumper worn by the de­ceased.

De­tec­tive Garda James Do­herty said the ac­cused was in­ter­viewed at Dun­dalk Garda Sta­tion on 23 May, 2016. He had been ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of the mur­der be­cause of re­ports that his car was seen driv­ing er­rat­i­cally on the night.

Det Gda Do­herty agreed with Mr Treacy that the ac­cused told gar­dai he didn’t know Mr Mul­li­gan and just heard about his death through Face­book.

The fol­low­ing day gar­dai used Sec­tions 18 and 19 of the Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Act 1984 which al­lows a court to draw in­fer­ences from an ac­cused per­son’s re­fusal or fail­ure to an­swer cer­tain ques­tions. They then asked him to ac­count for his DNA be­ing found on the jumper and glove and his blood be­ing on the ground near where the body lay. He replied, ‘no com­ment’ to each ques­tion. They asked him to ac­count for his pres­ence at the scene and he again replied, ‘no com­ment’.

The trial con­tin­ues.

Taxi driver, Mar­tin Mul­li­gan who was fa­tally stabbed in Septem­ber 2015.

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