07 Dec 2021

Kildare murder trial hears blood was spotted in the car of accused

Blood spotted in the car of man accused of murdering man last seen in Offaly

The late Philip Finnegan

A garda spotted "a lot of blood" inside a car associated with a man who is on trial for murder, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Stephen Penrose (38), of Newtown Court, Malahide Road, Coolock, Dublin 17, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Philip Finnegan (24) at Rahin Woods in Kildare, just outside Edenderry on August 10, 2016.

The trial has heard that Mr Finnegan went missing before his decapitated body was found buried in a shallow grave in a Kildare woods. The accused man, who was representing himself in the trial, has hired new lawyers but has declined to continue attending his trial.

Garda Padraic Reilly today told prosecuting counsel, Brendan Grehan SC, that he got a call from Garda Gerard Moore of Leixlip Garda Station on August 12. He was asked to search The Square in Kilcock, Co Kildare for a blue Alfa Romeo car, which had been involved in an accident on August 10.

The witness said he was not provided with the model or registration number for the vehicle.

Gda Moore was investigating "a stabbing of a Stephen Penrose" at the time and the injuries he had received, said Gda Reilly.  

The witness said he found a blue Alfa Romeo car parked in a parking space in a housing estate called The Courtyard, in Kilcock on August 13 at 00.37.

The number plate was mounted on "the left front side" of the car, the bonnet of the car was a "darker navy" to the rest of the car and the vehicle had alloy wheels, he said. 

The witness said the car was registered to a person in Portarlington and the vehicle had no connections to Kilcock. 

Gda Reilly carried out a closer examination of the car by using a torch to look through the window and saw "a lot of blood on the gearstick and driver's door". The car was locked and the witness could not find a key belonging to it.

The witness received a phone call from Gda Moore at 1.53am and was asked to gain entry to the vehicle to ensure that there was no evidence in the car in relation to a missing person. 

Gda Reilly broke the back window of the driver's seat to gain access to the vehicle and searched the boot. He told Mr Grehan that he did not find anybody in the car. 

A tow truck then arrived to bring the car to a garda compound in Naas.

The witness agreed with Mr Grehan that the car was seized as he believed it contained evidence in relation to the assault of Mr Finnegan. 

Evidence has been given by paramedic Terry Devine that he attended to Mr Penrose, who had a stab wound to the inside of his left arm, at Kilcock on August 10 at 6.45pm. The accused had socks wrapped around his wrist, he said, and his blood had "soaked" through the socks.

Mr Penrose later told Detective Garda Robert Fitzharris that at least five males were involved in an incident in Kilcock and he saw a male striking Mr Finnegan, who he said had been involved in a lot of "shit", over the head with a pipe or hammer. Mr Penrose said he got a stab wound and made his escape in a car.

Inspector Aidan Hannon gave evidence last week that he went to see Mr Penrose in Beaumont Hospital around 11.40pm on August 12. "Mr Penrose said Mr Finnegan had been in a dispute with a number of people and wanted to get himself a firearm for his own protection. He said that he pulled his Alfa Romeo car in behind the other men's car and Mr Finnegan got out of the car and approached the other vehicle. As he did so, a man approached him, whom he recognised, and immediately stabbed Mr Penrose through the window. He said he drove away at speed, realised he had been stabbed in the wrist, stopped his car and took off his sock and wrapped it," said Insp Hannon.

Insp Hannon said he and the accused had discussed where the blue Alfa Romeo car was and Mr Penrose told him it was "got rid of or sold" and it was "blood-stained".

The trial continues Friday before Mr Justice Alexander Owens and the 12 jurors. 

In his opening address, prosecuting barrister Mr Grehan said Mr Finnegan's decapitated body was found buried in a shallow grave in a Kildare woods. Counsel said Mr Finnegan had "certain troubles in the past" and had taken to wearing a protective vest.

The lawyer also told the jury in his opening address that attempts had been made to cut up and burn the body of Mr Finnegan, who had been missing for almost a month and who had met a "gruesome death".

Significantly, the barrister said, the jury will hear evidence that a bloodied glove was found in the woods which was a DNA match to the accused man Mr Penrose.

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