An Irish father of four beat a criminal to death and stored his body in a freezer for five years after they fell out over drugs.
Edward Griffin (45) of Cimin Mor, Cappagh Road, Knocknacarra, Galway pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 52-year-old Patrick McCormack in June 2002 at a fish shop on Henry Street, Galway at the Central criminal Court.
Michael O'Higgins SC, prosecuting, told Mr Justice Paul Carney that the defendant was in the drugs business, mainly cannabis, with Mr McCormack of Artane Cottages, Dublin.
Griffin was charged with murder, but the DPP accepted his plea to manslaughter on the grounds of self-defence, with excessive force used.
According to Griffin, the only eyewitness, the Dubliner went to the fish shop where Griffin worked. Griffin gave him €13,000 at the back of the shop. When McCormack became angry and demanded more, Griffin turned to get more cash from the freezer.
He said McCormack then hit him over the back of the head with a wheel brace and both men began to fight. Griffin took McCormack's wheel brace and used it against him.
He said McCormack slipped on the ice. He hit him again before going into the shop to get some rope to tie him. When he came back with the rope, he realised McCormack was dead.
He tied him up, put the body in a bin and into a walk-in freezer behind the shop. He never tried to move the body -- even when he left the job in 2006.
It wasn't until the Department of Marine notified the owner of an inspection in June 2007 that the body was discovered during a clear out. A post-mortem examination showed 40 injuries, 17 of which were to the head, with three of the head injuries being fractures.
Griffin told gardai he feared for his life and the safety of his family, who McCormack threatened to kill. He said McCormack also threatened to dismember a third party and to cut off Griffin's fingers, one by one, until just one remained so he could call a mutual acquaintance for more money.
Griffin said the fight was a "life and death, blow for blow" struggle, which lasted for what seemed like a lifetime. He thought McCormack wouldn't let it stop.
Griffin told gardai he took a couple of hours to clean up after the killing, and drove his victim's car to Shannon to make it look like he'd gone away.
McCormack hadn't notified his friends and family of his movements and they thought he had disappeared. Two friends checked hotels in Galway and drew a blank, until his car was found abandoned.
Griffin had previous convictions for handling stolen property, drugs, motor and public order offences.
Det Sgt William Beirne accepted that "it was going to be last man standing" in the fish shop that day and that Griffin was a cocaine addict at the time.
The dead man's daughters said they spent five years wondering what happened to their father. Through victim impact statements read to the court, Jeanine and Jade Brogan said they believed he had left the country and expected him to make contact every Christmas.
They were extremely disappointed when he did not send a card for Jeanine's 21st birthday. Griffin will be sentenced on Friday.