Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Knife wound to the heart killed father, court is told

A man who was allegedly murdered after his daughter's 18th birthday party died as a result of being stabbed through the heart, a court has heard.

The state pathologist for Northern Ireland told Belfast Crown Court that when he examined the body of 49-year-old Eamonn Hughes he found only one injury which caused risk to life, the stab wound through his heart.

It was this wound, said Professor Jack Crane, which was responsible for his collapse and “fairly rapid death”.

The Dungannon man was stabbed on September 13, 2008 as he and family and friends were walking home from a party in the town for his daughter Siobhan's birthday.

Accused of his murder are Martin Murray (23), from Windmill Drive, his cousin Liam Murray (24), from Windmill Court, Kevin Toye (24), from Windmill Court, all in Dungannon, and William McDonagh (25), from Kew Gardens in Ballymena.

According to the Crown case, Martin Murray was the knifeman who stabbed Mr Hughes in the chest.

Yesterday Professor Crane told the court that Mr Hughes had been a “reasonably healthy man for his age” and that when he examined his body the main injury he found was the stab wound to the chest.

He described how the wound penetrated through Mr Hughes’ clothing, breast bone and into the right ventricle, one of the main pumping chambers of the heart.

This wound, said the pathologist, caused massive bleeding into the heart sac which would have impeded the heart from being able to pump blood around his body.

“It's unlikely that more than moderate force would have been required for the infliction of the stab wound, particularly if the blade was sharp and the tip pointed,” said Prof Crane.

He told the court he also found numerous areas of abrasions but these were most likely caused when Mr Hughes collapsed on to the road, and that although he found 11 broken ribs, these were most likely caused when attempts were made to resuscitate him.

Previously the court heard one witness, Colm Thomas, give evidence he saw Martin Murray hanging from a car and strike out behind him with a knife, striking Mr Hughes in the chest.

Under cross-examination from Martin Murray's defence QC, that scenario was put to Prof Crane with the lawyer asking if such a description was consistent with the wound. The pathologist replied: “Yes it would.”

The trial continues.

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