Central Criminal Court

Murder trial hears Sligo musician may have been unable to defend himself

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Danny Keena Murder Trial

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A musician who was stabbed to death in his own home may have been too drunk to defend himself, a pathologist told a murder trial today.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis said the deceased man, Martin 'Matt' Kivlehan, had a potentially fatal level of alcohol in his system - eight times the drink driving limit. He also found no signs of defensive injuries.

30-year-old Keith Brady of Cartron Estate, Sligo has pleaded not (NOT) guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Kivlehan (59) at New Apartments, Holborn St, Sligo on August 2/3 2015. The plea was not accepted and he is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Dr Curtis told prosecuting counsel Paul Murray SC that he found two stab wounds at depths of 7.8cm and 9cm on either side of the deceased's neck. The first, he said, could have been fatal on its own but the second was not survivable, he said.

Commenting on the level of alcohol in the deceased's blood and urine he said he would have experienced "very gross intoxication" and that there have been cases where people have died with such levels in their systems. He said that it was a "distinct possibility" that he was incapacitated from alcohol and incapable of defending himself. Death, he said, was caused by the two stab wounds and while it would have been rapid it would not have been immediate and may have taken minutes. 

The deceased was otherwise healthy apart from some fatty tissue that had developed on his liver, which the pathologist said was consistent with him being a heavy drinker. A test for drugs had returned negative results.

Dr Curtis also noted that the deceased was found at his home, lying on his back with his right hand across his chest and a knife under the hand. The blade of the knife, a 12cm blade, was pointing at his throat. Another knife, described as a plastic-handled knife with a 20cm blade, was found on a counter near the body. Of the two, Dr Curtis said that the second was more likely to be the one that inflicted the wounds. 

DNA sampling of the knives by Dr Yvonne O'Dowd at the State Forensic Laboratories showed blood matching the deceased on both knives.

Detective Garda Shane Curran from the Garda Technical Bureau said he found blood spatter on a radiator behind an armchair which was close to where Mr Kivlehan's body was found. The jury then spent the afternoon watching CCTV footage showing the movements of the accused man and his sister Janice Brady around Sligo Town from 7pm on Sunday August 2 through the early hours of August 3 and finally at 1pm that Bank Holiday Monday, by which time Mr Kivlehan's body had been discovered.

Garda Martin Kelly told Ms Dara Foynes BL for the prosecution that the footage showed Mr Brady and his sister at St Joseph's Church in Ballytivnan at 7pm on the Sunday evening and at a pharmacy and various locations around the town.

On the Monday morning after when the prosecution says Mr Kivlehan was stabbed to death, they were seen at Sligo Train Station, walking along Lord Edward St and various other streets.

The trial continues tomorrow in front of Justice Paul McDermott and a jury of five men and seven women.