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Brian Phelan murder accused previous convictions for violence and kidnapping woman, court told

Prosecution read to the trial jury an agreed statement 'regarding evidence of the defendant's bad character'

Daniel Carroll accused of murdering Brian Phelan
Daniel Carroll, left, accused of the murder of Brian Phelan, right.

An alleged killer on trial for knifing a man to death has previous convictions for violence and kidnapping a woman off the street, a jury has heard.

The Newry Crown Court jury heard that in addition to the kidnapping conviction, 30-year-old Daniel Carroll also has previous convictions for false imprisonment, causing actual bodily harm and common assault.

Carroll, from Edward Street in Portadown, is on trial for the murder of 33-year-old Brian Phelan, who died as a result of five stab wounds, allegedly inflicted by Carroll, on July 26, 2018.

On the fourth day of evidence, prosecuting QC Neil Connor read to the jury an agreed statement “regarding evidence of the defendant’s bad character”.

He outlined to the jury that in September 2010, Carroll “punched his girlfriend repeatedly to the side of the head causing multiple bruises”.

“He trailed her from the car and hit her father with a metal bar causing bruising to his upper arm,” revealed the senior lawyer.

Two years later on December 12., 2012, a woman was walking along the street in Dundalk when Carroll “pulled her into a waiting car driven by his girlfriend and instructed her to drive off”.

“In the back seat of the car he sat on her chest, pinning her down, punching her repeatedly to the head and face,” he told the jury, before adding that “she begged him to stop but he continued to punch her”.

Mr Connor said the kidnap victim described how the violence “was coming in bursts – she estimated that each of these bursts of violence contained approximately eight punches”.

At one stage the victim “pretended to pass out” and when feigning unconsciousness, she heard Carroll and his girlfriend making comments like “she’s dead, what’re we going to do with her now?”

“Eventually she was brought to the defendant’s house and managed to escape and seek help,” the jury heard and also that Carroll had stood in the same dock he finds himself in now, pleading guilty to kidnapping, false imprisonment and inflicting ABH.

In relation to the death of Mr Phelan, a 33-year-old father-of-two from Bessbrook, it is the Crown case that Carroll stabbed him three times in the neck and twice in the chest close to what’s been described as the mountain path on the rural Carrivekeeney Road in Newry, intentionally inflicting wounds that caused his death.

Carroll has claimed that he and Mr Phelan had gone there to buy quad bikes when three unidentified men “suddenly appeared” from around the mountain, attacked the victim and ordering Carroll to “stay out of it”, claims which are disputed by the PPS.

The jury have heard that close to the scene of the killing, officers found a broken knife blade which, when examined, was found to have the victim’s fingerprints and blood on it and earlier this week, NI state pathologist Dr James Lynas told them all of the wounds he examined “had been caused by a bladed weapon such as the blade found at the scene”.

He told the jury while Mr Phelan was stabbed three times in the neck and twice in the chest, it was the two wounds to the left hand side of his neck which cut two branches of his carotid and thyroid arteries which were the main contributing factors to his death.

Those wounds were so deep, said the pathologist, the top of the knife stopped at the victim’s cervical spine.

He explained how the wounds transected branches of those arteries and while they were smaller branches of the main blood vessels, “bleeding would have been fairly brisk and would account for his eventual death”.

Dr Lynas said while each of the other wounds, one to the other side of his neck and one on each side of his chest, “would have caused some bleeding it’s unlikely they would have contributed significantly to his death”.

The jury heard that apart from the stab wounds, Mr Phelan had a “multitude of abrasions” all over his body, though mainly on his upper half and arms, but that was most likely as a result of him going through a hedge into the garden of a property on the Carrivekeeney Road where he sadly bled to death on July 26, 2018.

He added that while it was “impossible to be absolutely certain” what order the wounds were inflicted, “no more than moderate force would have been required…particularly if the blade was sharp and pointed”.

Brian Phelan

Dr Lynas also highlighted that he did not find anything to suggest Mr Phelan had sustained “defensive injuries” and under cross examination from defence QC Gary McHugh, he said he had not found any bruising to his hands that might have suggested he had thrown a punch or blow in a fight.

“While the absence of bruising doesn’t exclude completely there was no impact, I have certainly not had any evidence to suggest there was,” said the pathologist.

He agreed with the defence lawyer’s suggestion that he could not exclude the possibility that more than one knife had been used to stab Mr Phelan because “from the pathological evidence I cannot exclude that”, but equally he could not exclude the possibility that just one blade was used.

The jury were also told that when Carroll was arrested at his uncle’s house, he had been “fully compliant” with the arrest and procedure to authorise his detention, telling police, “I didn’t do anything, I was in the town”, when the murder charge was first put to him at Banbridge PSNI station.

The 30-year-old had been arrested at the home of his uncle Adrian Carroll who described how the alleged killer appeared “a bit nervous” when he was at his kitchen table, his hands “just moving about”.

“I asked him ‘Daniel is there anything wrong?’, and he said there was an altercation with someone and he had heard rumours they could be dead,” he told Mr Connor, adding that although he asked if the rumours were true “there was no answer”.

The trial continues. At hearing.

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