Murder charge dropped against 22-year-old man

Matthew Gralton walks free from court

Murder charge dropped against 22-year-old man

A man walked free from court last week after the State's legal team dropped a murder charge against him.

Matthew Gralton (22) had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Christy Daly (47) on a remote bog lane in Kilbride, Clara, Co Offaly between December 29, 2013 and January 7, 2014.

The murder charge against Mr Gralton, of Mt Prospect, Co Roscommon, was dropped following several days of legal argument at the Central Criminal Court.

Counsel for the prosecution Patrick Marrinan SC told the jury that he was entering a "nolle prosequi". Justice Patrick McCarthy told the jury that matters had been dealt with in their absence and that the prosecution had decided to discharge Mr Gralton but that the trial of Ross Allen would continue.

Mr Allen (25) with addresses in Carrickmines, Co Dublin and Clara, Co Offaly, has pleaded not guilty to Mr Daly's murder.

The prosecution called Mr Gralton's wife Niamh Heffernan to give evidence. Ms Heffernan told Mr Marrinan that she remembers the events of December 29, 2013, the last day Mr Daly was seen alive.

She said that she was at a house in Esker in Offaly with Ross Allen, another local man she knew, and two men from Dublin she did not know. She said one of the Dublin men was referred to as "Fly". The local man gave Mr Allen €100 and told him to buy clothes from Tesco. She agreed that he had said not to buy good clothes.

“I knew something was going on,” she said, and she asked to be taken to her mother's house. She left at about 7pm.

Later that night she came back to the house in Esker and she said the two Dublin men were snorting cocaine. Mr Allen was not there.

She agreed with defence counsel Blaise O'Carroll SC that she heard one of the Dublin men saying shots had been fired and she asked her then boyfriend Mr Gralton what had happened. She said he was upset. She went to bed and awoke at about 5am. The two Dublin men were still doing cocaine but when she awoke again at about 7am they were gone.

Mr Marrinan told the jury that the prosecution had presented all the evidence. At the time of going to press the jurors in the trial had retired to consider one of three verdicts open to them.