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Jury fail to reach verdict in murder trial of Waterford man who allegedly hit victim 'like Conor McGregor'

Jury fail to reach verdict in murder trial of Waterford man who allegedly hit victim 'like Conor McGregor'
Dublin Central Criminal Court, ยฉ PA Wire/PA Images

A Central Criminal Court jury has failed to reach a verdict in the murder trial of a man who the State argued "floored" a young Dublin construction worker with a "Conor McGregor" style knockout after targeting him as he walked alone in a rural town late at night.

The prosecution had told the jurors that it was a punch thrown by Maurice 'Mossie' Boland which caused 26-year-old Cian Gallagher to fall and hit the back of his head.

It was the State's case that Boland had intended to kill or cause serious injury to the deceased at the time.

The trial heard that both men had been drinking before Mr Gallagher was killed.

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However, the defence argued in their closing address that the pathologist could not have been clearer in her evidence that the fall caused the damage to the deceased Mr Gallagher and not the punch from the accused.

In her closing speech, prosecution counsel Roisin Lacey SC told the murder trial jury that Boland "targeted" and "relentlessly pursued" Mr Gallagher as he walked alone on the street of a rural town before "proudly and boastfully" using the phrase "a Conor McGregor knockout" to describe "flooring" the victim as he retreated.

The prosecutor said injuries to Boland's hand were caused by the punch to the deceased and that CCTV footage showed the accused punching Mr Gallagher, who was retreating at the time.

In seeking a manslaughter verdict for his client, Michael Bowman SC, defending, submitted in his closing statement that the "ludicrous and offensive statement" of "a Conor McGregor knockout" was no more than "drunken mouthing off" and was a facile reference.

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The defence barrister said it had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that his client had the requisite intent at the time and to suggest his client was "targeting" the deceased was not sustainable on the evidence.

Boland (36), of Bridgeview Close, Tallow, Co Waterford, had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Cian Gallagher (26) at Barrack Street in Tallow on November 10th, 2022.

At the opening of the trial, prosecution counsel told the jury that CCTV footage showed the accused punching Mr Gallagher when the deceased had his hands up and was backing away.

Ms Lacey said the footage showed that Mr Gallagher was not at all offensive even when he was being "set upon".

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After 13 hours and 23 minutes of deliberations over four days, the jury returned to court on Monday afternoon unable to reach a verdict.

The jury had previously asked the trial judge if it was a legal defence that the deceased was so intoxicated at the time that he could not break his fall.

Mr Justice McDermott said it was not.

The eight men and four women of the jury had deliberated for five hours and 44 minutes last Thursday when Mr Justice Paul McDermott gave them the option of reaching a majority verdict.

When the registrar asked the foreman of the jury on Monday if the panel had reached a verdict on which at least 10 of them agreed, he replied: "No."

At this point, Mr Justice McDermott asked the jurors whether further time would be of use to them in considering their verdict.

The foreman told the judge: "We are all in agreement that there is no more value in deliberating for any longer."

Mr Justice McDermott said that this can sometimes happen and in those circumstances the court would record it as a disagreement.

The judge told the foreman to write the single word 'Disagreement' next to the count on the issue paper.

He thanked the jury for the care and consideration that they had given the case and said "these are not easy cases."

In his charge to the jury, Mr Justice McDermott said "the key issue" for them was whether the defendant intended to kill or cause serious injury in striking Mr Gallagher.

The jury had the option of returning two verdicts in relation to the murder charge against Boland, namely; guilty of murder or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

The State told the 12 jurors in the opening address that Mr Gallagher, who was working on a construction project in Co Waterford, died from a brain bleed eight days after he was punched and knocked to the ground by the accused man in the early hours of November 2nd.

The judge exempted them from jury service for the next five years before listing the case for retrial on November 25th.

Reporting by Alison O'Riordan

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