Central Criminal Court, Dublin
A jury has failed to reach a verdict in the trial of a Roma gypsy who denies murdering a Romanian man in a Dublin park.
The trial of Feri Anghel, in which two senior counsels were appointed for both the defence and prosecution, was expected to last five weeks but finished today after three months.
Mr Anghel (40) pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the murder of Romanian national Ioan Artene Bob (49) in Dublin on April 13, 2018. Mr Bob was found by passersby in Sean Walsh Park in Tallaght, south Dublin in the early hours. He was still alive but had suffered extensive injuries. He was taken to hospital and died later the same day. Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster told the trial that he died from blunt force trauma. His injuries suggested he had been stamped on, punched and kicked, she said.
During the trial, the defence applied for the jury to be dismissed when a witness in the Book of Evidence was not called to testify.
In the absence of the jury Paul Greene SC, prosecuting, told Ms Justice Eileen Creedon that the man had attended court three times but was not called due to his intoxication. On one occasion the man tried to step over the sixth floor balcony inside the Criminal Courts of Justice building, the court heard.
The jury was reduced from 12 to ten people during the trial and Ms Justice Eileen Creedon had told the remaining jurors that there was therefore no option for a majority verdict. She urged them to arrive at a unanimous verdict and told them there were three possible verdicts open to them: guilty, not guilty, or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. If they were not satisfied that Mr Anghel killed Mr Bob, she told them to acquit. Murder, she said, is an unlawful killing where the accused person intends to kill or cause serious injury. A manslaughter verdict applies, the judge said, where a person commits an unlawful killing without the intent to kill or cause serious injury.
After three days of deliberations the jury foreman said they were "too far apart" to reach agreement on any of the available verdicts.
Paul Greene SC for the prosecution asked Ms Justice Creedon to adjourn the matter until October 4 to allow lawyers to take instructions regarding a possible retrial.
Evidence in trial
The court heard that Mr Bob was found at about 7.30am on 13 April 2018 in Sean Walsh Park having suffered extensive injuries. Assistant State pathologist Dr Margot Bolster described blunt force trauma injuries to Mr Anghel's scalp, neck and thyroid cartilage. His ribs were fractured and he had internal lacerations. The injuries, Dr Bolster said, suggested Mr Bob was kicked, punched and stamped on. When cross examined she told defence counsel Padraig Dwyer SC that she could not rule out the possibility that more than one person was responsible for Mr Bob's injuries.
Mr Bob was just short of his 50th birthday when he died. A Romanian national, he worked in construction and sent money to his family back home. Not long before his death he won e2,700 on a gambling machine at an arcade on O'Connell St. There was evidence that he was carrying e400 in his wallet before he died. When he was found, he had no money and his phone and ATM card were missing.
Gardai found CCTV which the prosecution said showed Mr Bob and the accused travelling to Tallaght on a Luas tram shortly after midnight on the night leading up to Mr Bob's death. Further CCTV showed two people "uncannily similar" to the accused and Mr Bob walking towards Sean Walsh Park, prosecution counsel Cathleen Noctor SC said in her closing speech to the jury.
Ms Noctor said a person wearing the same clothes as the accused was captured on CCTV at 3.05am at an ATM at The Square in Tallaght trying to withdraw cash using Mr Bob's ATM card. Ms Noctor said there was further evidence suggesting the accused had Mr Bob's phone and, she said, he used Mr Bob's ATM card to make two 'tap' purchases the following day at a shop and a garage in Slane, Co Meath.
Mr Dwyer, for the defence instructed by Wayne Kenny solicitor, said the prosecution had not established who else was in the park at the relevant time and pointed out that forensic evidence, including DNA belonging to two unknown people on the deceased's glasses, suggested the presence of other people who were not the accused. Mr Dwyer reminded the jury that the woman who found Mr Bob still conscious but dying in the park asked him, "who did this to you?" The dying man responded by putting up four fingers in a gesture the witness interpreted as meaning that four people had attacked him.
Mr Dwyer added that nobody knows what happened to Mr Bob between entering the park at about 1am and 7.30am when he was found. He said: "The prosecution floated a theory to you that Mr Anghel must have killed him, that is an invitation to speculate. They are inviting you to make jumps and draw inferences without fixing a basis for it, asking you to jump because the finger of guilt is pointing at him from the prosecution."
Mr Dwyer also told the jury to put prejudice out of their minds when considering their verdict. His client, he said, was described during the trial as a Romani gypsy. Mr Dwyer added: "That might spark prejudices in your mind and I am saying to you, put that prejudice out of your mind."
Citing the wrongful convictions of the Guildford Four, Birmingham Six, Maguire Seven and Juidith Ward, Mr Dwyer said: "We as Irish people should know what it is like to be put on trial in a foreign country where the bias is against you."
He asked the jury to put themselves in Mr Anghel's shoes, dismissed as "just a drinker, just a fighter" because of his background, in the same way that Irish people in England were labelled as "just a Paddy, just a drunkard, just a bomber."
Mr Anghel will appear before the court again on October 4.
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