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07 Dec 2021

'Pray I don't get you' - Chilling message left on dead man's phone

'Pray I don't get you' - Chilling message left on dead man's phone

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The State has reminded a jury of evidence that before stabbing his friend to death, a murder accused messaged the deceased and told him: "I promise you, I'll slit your fucking throat. Pray I don't get you. I'm going to slaughter you. You're dead."

Damien Singleton (30) of no fixed abode, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of his friend, Peter Donnelly (39), also of no fixed abode, but originally from Kilkenny, on O'Connell Street on June 11, 2019.

On Tuesday, in his closing speech to the jury, Mr Lorcan Staines SC, for the State, said that there was no issue that Mr Singleton killed Mr Donnelly because a guilty plea had been entered.

Mr Staines said the issue for the jury was whether or not Mr Singleton had formed the intent to "kill or cause serious injury" when he twice stabbed Mr Donnelly on O'Connell Street.

The barrister said the jury might hear of a "self-defence" scenario but that "in this case Mr Donnelly posed no threat and repeatedly tried to retreat" from the defendant.

He said Mr Donnelly made "repeated and obvious attempts" to move away from Mr Singleton. "There is no self-defence in this case, you do not see Mr Donnelly being aggressive, he was carrying a Coke bottle," said Mr Staines, referring to CCTV seen by the jury.

Mr Staines said that provocation did not arise in the case and said "the only issue is intent" regarding the murder charge.

He said that the jury had to consider that Mr Donnelly was stabbed twice - once in a jugular vein and once in the aorta - with a knife that Mr Singleton carried in his tracksuit.

Mr Staines said that "in law" being intoxicated with drugs or alcohol was not a defence and that it was only applicable if the defendant was incapable of either knowing what he was doing or was incapable of knowing the consequences of his actions.

The barrister told the jury that immediately before the stabbing, Mr Singleton had a 30-minute conversation with Garda Nicola Torsney, who was on patrol on O'Connell Street, in which he discussed his family, relationships, travel to England and his qualification achievements. He had hugged the Garda and thanked her for listening to him.

Mr Staines said that an audio message found on Mr Donnelly's phone together with how Mr Singleton interacted on the night with the deceased should be taken into account by the jury.

He said the stabbing was "vicious and devastating", adding that less than one hour earlier Mr Singleton had messaged Mr Donnelly saying "I promise you, I'll slit your fucking throat. Pray I don't get you. I'm going to slaughter you. You're dead."

The barrister said the defendant had discarded the knife in a bin only to return and retrieve it and could be seen on CCTV on the night removing something from it before moving about again.

"That's exactly what he did. This is murder, pure and simple" said Mr Staines.

Defending barrister Michael Bowman SC said his client did not use drugs or alcohol as an excuse and that Mr Singleton had already pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge.

Mr Bowman said that both the defendant and the accused moved in "similar, difficult circumstances".

Mr Bowman said that the possession of the knife by Mr Singleton in his waistband was mentioned by the prosecution in a "narrow perspective" and asked the jury to "step back". He said that Mr Donnelly knew Mr Singleton carried the knife and that Gda Torsney knew Mr Singleton from being the victim of an attack that saw his "face slashed", leaving him with a scar stretching from his forehead down to his chin.

The barrister said that the benefit of doubt in criminal jury trials "was not to give passage to a rogue, nor safety to a scoundrel" but that the jury must side with the defence, even if a reasonable inference in favour of Mr Singleton was a less likely than one made by the prosecution.

Mr Bowman described the defendant and the deceased as "bosom buddies, soldiering through addiction", adding that there was no "murderous intent" in Mr Singleton towards his "friend".

He said his client had even given Mr Donnelly €50 earlier that day and wished him well as Mr Donnelly got on a bus to collect his social welfare payment.

After examination by a doctor, it was discovered that alcohol, morphine, benzodiazepine and cocaine were in Mr Singleton's system on the night, said the barrister.

Mr Bowman said that during the conversation with Gda Torsney on the night, Mr Singleton's "emotions were ebbing and flowing from distress, to pride, to sadness".

He described his client as being on an "emotional rollercoaster" and that he was "even oblivious to the fact that he had cocaine in his system".

Mr Bowman said his client's mind was "polluted, contaminated by a cocktail of alcohol and drugs" and that he was "barely coherent" when arrested.

Mr Bowman said that while the case was a "distressing and tragic" one, the state of his client's mind meant that he could not have formed the intent to murder Mr Donnelly and that his "culpability rests at manslaughter, not murder".

Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy adjourned the case until Wednesday when she will give her charge to the jury of six men and six women, who will then begin their deliberations.

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