Jury asks to re-hear evidence in Waterford murder trial

Alison O'Riordan

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Alison O'Riordan

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Jury asks to re-hear evidence in Waterford murder trial

The late Paddy Lyons (left) of County Waterford and Ross Outram from County Tipperary

The jury in the trial of a man accused of murdering a 90-year-old retired farmer in his Waterford home have asked to re-hear evidence from two pathologists and to view clothing from both the deceased and accused. 

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.

Having spent two hours and 29 minutes deliberating on Thursday, March 7, the jury of eight men and four women were sent home for the evening. 

Earlier, a note was handed up to the judge from the foreman of the jury, requesting to see a hoodie that belonged to the accused man and a grey hat that belonged to Mr Lyons. 

Forensic scientist John Hoade gave evidence in the trial that he examined a grey hoodie belonging to Mr Outram and found blood on the right sleeve and hood which matched Mr Lyons' DNA profile. Garda Eugene O'Neill testified that he went to Mr Outram's house at Ferryland on February 27 and searched the back bedroom, where he seized a grey hoodie. 

Defence counsel, Michael O'Higgins SC, outlined in his closing speech that Mr Outram told gardai in his interviews on two occasions that Mr Lyons was alive when he left the house because he [the deceased] had put on a grey hat. “That’s an unusual memory fragment and why would Mr Outram invent that detail?” emphasised the barrister, adding that a garda had given evidence that he found a grey hat in the vicinity of Mr Lyons' fireplace. 

There was a further inquiry from the jury as to whether Mr Lyons' grey hat had blood on it. "The answer is no, no blood was found on that," replied Mr Justice Paul Coffey. 

The jury also requested to re-hear the evidence of Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster concerning Mr Lyons' injuries as well as a defence pathologist's findings. 

Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster has told the trial of observing Mr Lyons' blood-smeared body in an 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.

Former Northern Ireland State Pathologist, Professor Jack Crane, gave evidence for the defence in the trial and said he was instructed to prepare his own pathology report having reviewed Dr Bolster's report. 

The jury finally asked for "a picture" of blood-staining from Mr Lyons' front door. 

In his charge, Mr Justice Coffey said there were four verdicts the jury could return, namely; guilty of murder, not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter, not guilty of murder but guilty of assault causing harm, or not guilty. 

The judge told the jurors that they must be unanimous in their verdict before sending them away to begin deliberations at 11.42am this morning.

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 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.

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.

The defence argued in their 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. 

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.

Mr O'Kelly 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 Coffey told the jury in his charge on Wednesday 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.

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 concluded. 

The jury will resume deliberating at 10.30am on Friday morning, March 8.