Kilkenny man who dismissed legal team during murder trial and cross examined his own cousin brings appeal against conviction

Ruaidhri Giblin

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Ruaidhri Giblin

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Tadhg Butler

Tadhg Butler to appeal conviction.

A man who dismissed a team of lawyers during his trial for murder, and cross-examined his own cousin himself, has moved to appeal his conviction.

Tadhg Butler (36), with an address at Seafield in Tramore, Co Waterford but originally from Kilkenny had pleaded not  guilty to the murder of Michael O'Dwyer (25) at that address on January 10, 2014.

Butler was unanimously found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury after two hours and 26 minutes and was he was given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy on May 15, 2015.

Butler dismissed his legal team on day six of his trial. He then recalled his nephew, Patrick O’Grady, who was a key prosecution witness, for cross-examination in what Mr Justice McCarthy described as an "exceptional situation".

This morning, Monday, Butler moved to appeal his conviction on a number of grounds in the Court of Appeal where judgment was reserved.

His barrister, Michael Bowman SC, who was not his counsel at trial, said Butler had “changed his approach to the case” suggesting for the first time that he had stabbed the deceased but it was an accident.

Mr Bowman said Butler’s barrister at trial, Brendan Grehan SC, "asked for time to better prepare" the new defence that was being advanced but he was told by the trial judge 'no, the case proceeds'.

Butler then re-examined his cousin himself on the new defence but the witness flatly rejected the proposition.

Therefore, the proposition had been raised but there was no evidence, without Butler himself getting into the box and giving evidence, on foot of which the jury could consider it.

 

The issue, the court heard, was whether Butler realised he was bound by the witness’ answers to his questions and whether the trial judge should have informed him that if he wished the jury to consider the propositions put by him to the witness – that it was an accident - there had to be an evidential basis for that.

Butler "at all stages" indicated that he didn't want to defend himself and didn't have the capacity to defend himself, Mr Bowman said. But the trial court took a view that it simply could not engage and that the case was to proceed and proceed that day.

Counsel for the DPP, Noel Whelan BL, submitted that Butler had harvested the benefit of having one of Ireland's most experienced senior counsel.

Once he had harnessed the benefit of that, he sought to ride a second horse, Mr Whelan submitted.

Mr Whelan said the affect of what happened was to sabotage the trial.

Mr Bowman said Butler made a number of requests for access to legal representation but the trial court decided "summarily" that the case was to proceed.

At no stage did Butler "seek to disrupt the process", Mr Bowman said. He never sought to be disruptive and never sought to introduce material which would have obviously collapsed the trial.

His tone and level of engagement spoke to the fact Butler abided by the courts rulings even though he was compromised, Mr Bowman said.  

Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court would reserve judgment.