By Eoin Reynolds
The mother of a 23 year-old man who was murdered by a teenager said her son was a soft-natured boy who loved Christmas.
Graham McEvoy (19) of Captain’s Road in Crumlin was found guilty yesterday of the murder of Paul “Paulie” Curran (23) at Seagull House on Crumlin Road in Dublin on July 16, 2016. McEvoy pleaded guilty to manslaughter but his plea was rejected and he underwent a week-long trial at the Central Criminal Court.
Today Justice Patrick McCarthy sentenced McEvoy to life imprisonment.
Mr Curran’s mother, Elizabeth Curran, was not present in court but wrote a statement which was read by prosecution counsel Conor Devally SC.
She said she has suffered mental health issues as a result of her son’s death and is often afraid to leave her home in case she meets friends or family of her son’s murderer.
She said her son was kind and well-loved and loved Christmas and giving presents. “Christmas will never be the same again,” she added.
Describing him as soft-natured, she said he would console anyone who was upset and if a person cried he was so gentle he would cry with them.
During garda interviews McEvoy described Mr Curran as his “best friend” but the deceased’s mother said McEvoy was no friend of her son and that he was a bully. She has difficulty knowing that her son called out for her as he was dying but she was not there to take care of him when he needed her most. She also said she could not believe that her son would have carried a knife, as was stated by McEvoy who told gardai that Mr Curran pulled a knife on him and tried to slash him.
Defence counsel Barry White SC told the court that his client’s education ceased when he was 14 and that he had a drug problem. He was living a chaotic lifestyle at the time and, although he had previous for drugs and motor offences, he had no convictions for violent offences prior to this.
Det Sgt Dan Kelly agreed with Mr White that McEvoy appeared genuinely distressed when talking about the stabbing during interviews with gardai. Mr White also asked the court to note that when McEvoy told members of his family, following delivery of the jury verdict: “Don’t worry, it’s only a few more years,” that this was not bravado. He said his client’s family was “extremely distressed” and he was trying to dispel their distress. Mr White also indicated an intention to appeal the verdict.
Evidence in trial
The trial heard from Deputy State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan that Mr Curran was stabbed at least six times with the fatal wound entering under the left armpit and going through the upper lobe of the left lung. This wound, at a depth of nine or ten centimetres, caused significant bleeding and collapse of the left lung leading to respiratory collapse and death.
Blood loss through other wounds to the backs of his legs contributed to his death while an incised wound to his left forearm was most likely a defensive injury. The injuries to his legs appeared to travel in an upward direction, suggesting that the deceased was at a higher level, such as on a stairs, when those wounds were inflicted.
During garda interviews, McEvoy said he met the deceased at Seagull House to sell him half an ounce of cocaine, but when he asked for his money Mr Curran pulled a knife and tried to slash him. In the scuffle that followed they slipped to the floor and McEvoy said he took the knife from Mr Curran and stabbed him.
His barrister Barry White SC argued that McEvoy was acting in self defence but used excessive force and should therefore be convicted of manslaughter and not murder.
The prosecution said the three knife wounds to the backs of Mr Curran’s legs, that the pathologist said went in an upward direction, showed that the deceased was trying to get away rather than scuffling on the ground. The prosecution also pointed to the evidence of a teenage girl who said McEvoy called her earlier that day looking for Mr Curran and said something about “nearly getting a stripe” on his face and that he “got it over Paulie”.
In his charge to the jury Justice McCarthy explained that McEvoy’s plea to the lesser charge meant that he accepted responsibility for the killing but that at the time he did not intend to kill or cause serious injury.
Justice McCarthy said any person is entitled to defend themselves in a way that is proportionate with the threat. But in circumstances in which the level of force used is not reasonable, the person might still not be guilty of murder.
He said the prosecution would still have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused man knew that the force used was excessive. If the prosecution had failed to prove this then the accused man should be found not guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter.
However, if the jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he knew at the time that the force he was using was excessive, Justice McCarthy said they should find him guilty of murder.