Supporters speak of joy at Nally verdict

Emotions ran high following the not guilty verdict in the manslaughter trial of Padriag Nally at Dublin Central Criminal Court today.

Padraig Nally (aged 62) denied the manslaughter of John Ward on his land in Funshinaugh, Cross, Co Mayo, on October 14, 2004.

Speaking outside the court Paddy Rock, a supporter of Mr Nally's, said: “We're overjoyed with it I suppose. It's what we've always worked for.

“We're very pleased for the support for Padráig nationwide. Mass cards have been sent to him and even emails. We're really thankful for it.”

“Our deepest sympathies would be with the Ward family for the loss.”

He asked that people would allow Mr Nally to get on with his normal life.

“It's obviously taken quite a while but I think he can as a result get on with his life. People will say justice has prevailed.”

Speaking about the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell, he said: “This gives Mr McDowell a platform to bring in new legislation to protect homeowners' rights and help people in rural Ireland.”

Asked if the case had centered around the issue of Mr Ward the deceased being a Traveller, he said: “I don't think this is a Traveller issue, Traveller or settled, I think this is an issue where an intruder came into someone's home.”

He said the case had taken its toll on Mr Nally who was treated in St James's Hospital in Dublin after suffering chest pains last Thursday evening. He was released that same evening and given a spray to deal with the condition.

“Stress had been part of it," said Mr Rock.

Ahead of the trial which has attracted massive publicity and public debate about the safety of older people in rural Ireland, Mr Justice Paul Carney warned jury members: “This case has engendered a great deal of publicity, perhaps more than any other in the history of this court. It has also engendered extremely strong feelings.”

He said the jury must try the case “strictly on the basis of the evidence adduced and the trial judge’s directions of law.”

“Anybody serving is warranting that he or she can do that without any prejudice towards the Travelling or farming community.”

The trial judge Mr Justice Kevin O'Higgins also warned the jury not to let their feelings about gun law and any emotions, or opinions about Travellers enter into the deliberations.

Tom Ward (aged 20) said in evidence that since the killing of his father, he had slit his wrists, taken overdoses and tried to drive a car into a river.

He denied he had ever been to the Nally farm before, but asked if his father had, he replied: “That’s something I don’t know.”

He added: “I never thought it would end up with my father getting murdered and the person who done it walking free. It f****d up all our lives.”

In later evidence he said he knew his father had been in prison but he said he didn’t know what for.

John ‘Frog’ Ward had 80 previous convictions over 38 different court appearances including burglary, handling stolen goods, assault, and larceny.

In 1999, he threatened a barman with a Stanley knife and had also allegedly threatened gardaí on two occasions with a slash hook.

He had been due to appear in court in connection with one of these incidents on the day after his death.

In another incident, he had attacked a car with a slash hook, breaking the back and side windows as a woman and children sat inside.

On the morning of his death, Mr Ward was released from psychiatric treatment as a day patient at the University Hospital Galway.

He had spoken to his doctors there of a fear about the violence he was capable of and feelings of paranoia. He also spoke of a violent past and involvement in bare-knuckle boxing.

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