THE JURY in the trial of the man charged with murdering Shane Geoghegan has failed to reach a verdict after 15½ hours of deliberations.
The five men and five women returned to the courtroom in the Central Criminal Court at 5pm yesterday, having first retired to consider the evidence on Friday afternoon.
“The jury would like to know how to proceed if we believe it will never be possible to agree a unanimous verdict,” asked the foreman.
“You fill in the words, ‘Cannot agree’, on the issue paper and sign it,” replied Mr Justice Paul Carney.
“Can I request a pen?” asked the foreman, who then filled in the issue paper and returned it.
The judge looked at the paper, thanked the jurors and discharged them from jury service for the rest of their lives.
Mr Geoghegan’s family and girlfriend, who had attended every day of the four-week trial, sat silently with their heads bowed.
Father-of-three Barry Doyle had pleaded not guilty to murdering the 28-year-old Garryowen rugby player in a case of mistaken identity more than two years ago.
Mr Geoghegan was shot dead across the road from his home in Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, on November 9th, 2008.
Mr Doyle, a former bricklayer of Dublin, and of Limerick, admitted shooting Mr Geoghegan in video-taped Garda interviews, but argued during his trial that he had been induced into confessing.
The trial heard that shortly before 1am that Sunday the deceased had been walking the two-minute distance between a friend’s house and the home he shared with his girlfriend, Jenna Barry. He had captained Garryowen that Saturday and had watched a rugby match in this friend’s house afterwards.
Ms Barry last heard from her boyfriend at 12.54am, when he texted to say he’d be home in a minute. Moments later she heard shots outside their house, looked out and saw a person running towards a car.
“The wheels were screeching and someone was shouting: ‘Drive’,” she testified on the second day of the trial.
She dialled 999 and texted Mr Geoghegan to tell him she thought there had been a shooting.
State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy found the victim’s body had five gunshot wounds, with one to the back of the head. This bullet had transected the brain stem and this would have caused rapid death, she said.
A wound to his shoulder was potentially fatal too and was also sustained when he was facing away from his attacker, possibly at the same time.
Mr Doyle’s then girlfriend testified he had texted her at about 8pm that Saturday to say he was going to turn off his phone and that he had something to do.
Victoria Gunnery explained that Mr Doyle had moved to Limerick in 2008 while she remained in Dublin with their baby, who had a heart complaint.
She said after Mr Doyle switched his phone back on at about 1.30am on the Sunday, she texted him to ask why he had turned it off.
“He told me to read the teletext in the morning,” she testified.
She said she did this and learned a man had been shot in Limerick. She said Mr Doyle rang her from Turkey some days later and asked what the newspapers were saying about the murder.
“They know it’s you because they say it’s a very close associate of Patrick Doyle,” she informed him, referring to the defendant’s brother. “He said they had no proof,” she recalled in court.
Both Ms Gunnery and Mr Doyle were arrested on February 24th, 2009, Ms Gunnery on suspicion of withholding information, Mr Doyle on suspicion of the murder.
Mr Doyle was interviewed 23 times over a number of days, denying any involvement until after a consultation with his solicitor.
During the 15th interview on February 26th, 2009, he admitted shooting Mr Geoghegan seven or eight times, which tallied with ballistics evidence. He admitted chasing him into a back garden on the victim’s cul-de-sac and shooting him in the back of the head.
“He was leaning against the wall when I shot him and he just slid down,” he recalled.
He told gardaí his gun jammed and he pulled back the slide two or three times, which was confirmed by the finding of two undischarged casings on the street. The Glock pistol used was never discovered.
Mr Doyle accepted the shooting had been a mistake and said he was sorry.
After his first admission, he took white plastic rosary beads from around his neck and asked gardaí to give them to Mr Geoghegan’s “Ma”.
Martin O’Rourke, defending, argued there had been inducement and psychological pressure by gardaí before the admissions.
He said the detectives were asking Mr Doyle to tell them what they wanted to hear so Ms Gunnery could return home to their sick child, who was due to have a heart scan the day they were arrested.
The jury heard Mr Doyle’s solicitor, Michael O’Donnell, had tried to do “a deal” with investigating gardaí on behalf of his client. Mr O’Donnell had told them Mr Doyle would confess if Ms Gunnery was first released from custody.
Det Sgt Mark Phillips told the court he and his colleague rejected this deal, knowing any admissions made this way would constitute inducement and consequently would not stand up in court.
He agreed the admissions came immediately after this meeting with the solicitor, but said Mr O’Donnell knew there was no deal.
A juror was discharged before deliberations began on Friday as his father had become ill. Another was discharged on Tuesday as he had a flight to catch. The 10 remaining jurors were told their verdict had to be unanimous.
The jury’s deliberations had become some of the longest in the history of the State, and the 10 members concluded more time would not help them to reach a decision.
Mr Justice Carney said the accused should be remanded in the same condition as he had arrived and put the case back into the court list for an expected retrial.