The late Paddy Lyons (left) of County Waterford and Ross Outram from County Tipperary
A jury in the trial of a Tipperary man accused of murdering a 90-year-old retired farmer in his Waterford home is expected to begin its deliberations this morning, Thursday, March 7, at the Central Criminal Court.
Ross Outram (28), of Ferryland, Waterford Road, Clonmel in Co Tipperary, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Paddy Lyons (90) at Loughleagh, Ballysaggart, Lismore, Co Waterford, at a time unknown between February 23 and 26, 2017.
Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster has told the trial of observing Mr Lyons' blood-smeared body in his armchair at his home. She found his cause of death to be blunt force trauma to his body along with a traumatic brain injury and shock due to fractures of his hip joint, jawbone and ribs.
The jury has heard medical evidence that Mr Lyons suffered a “stiffness or fusion” of his right shoulder during childbirth and could only keep it in one position.
Mr Outram told gardai in interviews that he had “fought back” after Mr Lyons hit him with a walking stick and shovel, and that he had taken up to 100 Xanax that day. A pharmaceutical expert has told the jury that there is "no proof" that Mr Outram had taken Xanax.
The trial has previously heard that Mr Outram had injuries that included marks on his hands, bruising to the inside of his thigh and lumps on his head.
Defence counsel, Michael O’Higgins SC, argued in his closing speech that Mr Outram had acted in self-defence and that he could not be made liable for "a fall" which saw Mr Lyons break his hip if it was unconnected to the original injuries inflicted on him by the accused. A defence pathologist said he "favoured" the possibility that Mr Lyons' hip fracture was the result of a fall rather than blows with a blunt weapon.
Prosecution counsel, John O’Kelly SC, submitted that no one knew how much truth "if any" is in Mr Outram’s version of events, as he had lied consistently in his first six garda interviews.
Counsel told the jury that it “flew in the face of all common sense” to suggest that Mr Lyons’ hip injury could have occurred after he was subjected to the attack or could be seen as something entirely independent. “There is no evidence to show that it could have happened later or was entirely separate and independent,” he said.
Mr Justice Paul Coffey today (Wed) told the jury in his charge that in order to convict Mr Outram of murder they must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Lyons’ fall and the fracture of his hip was either directly caused by the multiple blows inflicted on him or it was reasonably foreseeable that it was a natural consequence of these blows.
If the jury found that Mr Lyons fell on the ground or collapsed in the course of being repeatedly beaten by Mr Outram, the judge said they could find that causation had been established.
However, if the jury accepted that it was reasonably possible that Mr Lyons did not fall or sustain his hip injury during the altercation and the fall occurred after Mr Outram left the house, then causation had not been made out and they must acquit him of murder.
Mr Justice Coffey said the jury must have regard to the relevant evidence in deciding these issues and the following matters were not in dispute, namely; that Mr Lyons was mobile and upright in the vicinity of the front door when at least one of the blows was delivered to him, the deceased would have been incapable of weight bearing after his hip fracture occurred and the presence of ash on Mr Lyons' knees was consistent with him having fallen around the fireplace.
In order to convict Mr Outram of murder, the jury must be satisfied that the natural and probable outcome of the accused's acts was to cause death or serious injury to Mr Lyons. The jury must also be satisfied that the accused did not act in self-defence. However, if the jury was satisfied that Mr Outram acting in self-defence used more force than was reasonably necessary but no more than he considered necessary then they could find him guilty of manslaughter instead.
Mr Justice Coffey emphasised that it was of particular relevance that Mr Lyons was a man of advanced years, who had poor health and a “useless” or limited right arm. The jury must see if the deceased had posed a threat to Mr Outram, he said.
The judge told the jury of eight men and four women that he will resume his charge briefly on Thursday morning before they commenced their deliberations.