Man found guilty of murdering Waterford farmer in his home
A jury has convicted a man of murdering a 90-year-old retired farmer, who has found beaten to death in his own home.
The panel of eight men and four women rejected 28-year-old Ross Outram's claim that he repeatedly struck Paddy Lyons in "self-defence" after the pensioner, who suffered from osteoporosis and only had the use of one arm, attacked him with a stick.
The trial heard that the farmer's body was discovered slumped in his armchair at his home. Blood was smeared down his face and his penis was exposed through his underpants. Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster told the trial that Mr Lyons suffered multiple blows to his head and neck from a blunt weapon and had fractures of his hip joint, jawbone and ribs.
Ross Outram, of Ferryland, Waterford Road, Clonmel in Co Tipperary, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Paddy Lyons at Loughleagh, Ballysaggart, Lismore, Co Waterford, at a time unknown between February 23 and 26, 2017.
It was the State's case that Outram had carried out "a vicious and sustained attack on a defenceless old man with a non-functioning arm" and his claim of self-defence did "not bear thinking about”.
The jury took three hours and 29 minutes to come to their unanimous verdict.
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. However, a pharmaceutical expert told the jury that there was "no proof" that Outram had taken Xanax.
The three-week trial 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.
Forensic scientist John Hoade testified that he examined a grey hoodie belonging to Outram and found blood on the right sleeve and hood which matched Mr Lyons' DNA profile.
Defence counsel, Michael O’Higgins SC, argued in his closing speech that 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 defendant.
However, prosecution counsel John O'Kelly SC told the jury in his closing speech 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 outlined.
Furthermore, Mr O'Kelly submitted that no one knew how much truth "if any" was in Outram’s version of events as he had lied consistently in his first six garda interviews.
In charging the jury, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said that in order to convict 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 his attacker, the judge said they could find that causation had been established.