A judge has told the jury in the trial of an Ennis man accused of murder, that alcohol is not a defence to criminal responsibility.
The jury is expected to begin its deliberations on this Friday in the case of Michael Maughan (40) of Stone Court, Ennis, who has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Piotr Nowakowski (31) at Sandfield Mews, Ennis on July 23, 2013.
Last week, the Central Criminal Court was told the manslaughter plea was not acceptable to the prosecution and a jury was sworn in for the week-long murder trial.
Mr Nowakowski was stabbed twice and died in an ambulance on the way to Shannon Airport where he was to be airlifted to hospital in Cork.
The court heard that the accused and his brother had been drinking with the deceased and two other men in an apartment in the Sandfield complex earlier that day and returned there later that night.
The accused has also pleaded not guilty to assaulting Declan O’Dea at the same address on the same date.
On Thursday, Mr Justice Paul Carney told the jury of seven men and five women “sanity or insanity is not in this case” as if it were “the case would go down a different set of tracks.”
“Alcohol is not a defence to criminal responsibility,” Mr Justice Carney told the jury.
“Alcohol can be a factor in one’s make up- that’s a matter for you,” he said.
He said intent could be informed in a nanosecond and said there was no requirement for preplanning.
Brendan Nix SC, defending, told the jury that his client was an alcoholic and part of a drinking culture.
He said his client recognised he had a problem with alcohol and tried to address it by going into an addiction treatment centre.
However, he said the incident happened around the time the accused had the anniversaries of two deceased brothers and one of his children.
“If he’d got over the hurdle of all these anniversaries maybe we would not be here today,” he said.
Mr Nix said his client, who was recently released from Bushy Park addiction treatment centre, might have left the facility at a bad time.
“Maybe he did not come out of Bushy Park at the optimum time,” said Mr Nix.
He told the court that an addict does not feed his habit of his own free will.
“I don’t know what made Michael Maughan an alcoholic but there’s no doubt he is one,” said Mr Nix.
“There are no winners in this case. It’s misery, misery, misery – the whole thing,” he said.
“My client accepts responsibility for this man’s death. He did not try to run away,” he added.
Denis Vaughan Buckley SC, prosecuting, said the accused was drinking on the days before the incident.
He said the jury should give the benefit of the doubt to the accused and it was open to them to acquit him of murder.
However, Mr Vaughan Buckley submitted there was plenty of evidence to find him guilty of murder.
“There is an abundance of evidence from which you can find him guilty of murder,” said Mr Vaughan Buckley.
Earlier his brother-in-law, Joseph McDonagh said the accused could not control his drinking.
“He couldn’t stop drinking – when he’d start and he couldn’t make any proper decisions,” said Mr McDonagh.
He told Mr Nix the accused went to Bushy Park voluntarily and came out the month before the incident.
Under cross-examination, Mr McDonagh agreed with Mr Vaughan Buckley that the accused was ‘probably’ drinking the day before and the day of the incident.
The court was told that he was admitted to Bushy Park on May 27, 2013 and discharged on June 24, 2013.
The court was told a review date was set for July 22, 2013 but he never attended for it.
The jury is expected to retire this morning.