Life sentence for man who murdered his best friend

A man has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his best friend in Co Kildare last year.

Darren Wynne (aged 21) of Ballyroe, Athy, Co. Kildare had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Jamie Lindsay (aged 20) at Coney Green, Coneyboro, Athy on April, 2013.

Wynne shot Mr Lindsay in his right eye at almost point blank range with a sawn-off shotgun after a background of mutual threats.

On July 10 last, the jury of eight men and four women returned a unanimous verdict of guilty of murder after almost five hours of deliberation.

Wynne was also convicted of possession of a sawn-off shotgun and ammunition with intent to endanger life on the same occasion.

Although Wynne pleaded guilty to manslaughter during his trial the plea was not accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan sentenced Wynne to life in prison for the murder and adjourned sentencing for the firearms offences until November next when probation and psychological reports will be before the court.

Two other men who were being tried alongside Wynne pleaded guilty to Mr Lindsay’s manslaughter during the trial and will be sentenced later.

Quentin Monaghan (aged 21) of Tullamoy, Stradbally, Co. Laois and James Seery (aged 21) of Canal Side, Athy who were also charged with the murder and were being tried alongside Wynne.

It was State’s case that Seery and Monaghan were part of a joint enterprise.

But they were rearraigned during the trial and both men pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.

Monaghan and Seery were also rearraigned and pleaded guilty to possession of a sawn-off shotgun and cartridges in suspicious circumstances on the same date.

The pleas were accepted by the DPP.

The court heard that Mr Lindsay was shot in the right eye at almost point blank range at the Coneyboro estate.

Wynne told gardai that Mr Lindsay was threatening him over €1,000 for cannabis herb that had gone missing and also threatened to rape his grandmother.

He said he shot Mr Lindsay in the shoulder but only wanted to kneecap him and did not mean to kill him.

Counsel for Wynne raised the defence of provocation and also said that the gun used was capable of accidental discharge.

Jodie Browne (aged 22) told Mr Paul Coffey SC prosecuting she and Monaghan, who was her then boyfriend, met Wynne and Seery at a graveyard that day.

Ms Browne said Wynne had a gun and Monaghan said he wanted to buy it.

She said Wynne came back to the car with an old brown the gun and they went to a forest where Mr Monaghan was shooting at trees.

She told the court they drove to the Coneyboro estate and they were going to give ‘Marley’ a scare.

“They’d shoot the wall and scare him,” she said.

She testified Wynne “said he’d kneecap him”.

Ms Browne said Seery sent a text and they saw ‘Marley’ appear down the alley.

“Darren shot him…he was right in front of him,” she said.

They were facing each other and were “very close” when he shot him, she told the court.

“He (Wynne) said ‘I only shot him in the shoulder,” she said.

She said Wynne told Monaghan to drive or “he’d do the same to him.”

Ms Browne said they drove back to Monaghan’s house in Stradbally and Wynne and Seery burnt their clothes. She said Monaghan buried the gun.

P.J. Hickey gave evidence that when Wynne called to his house after the incident, he seemed “panicky” and was beating on the windows and the doors.

“He said ‘let me in, let me in. I need an alibi. I’m after shooting him’,” Mr Hickey told the court.

The witness testified they later walked up to a garage and Wynne told him he shot ‘Marley’.

“He just said he got too big for his boots, ‘it was either him or me’,” he said.

Mr Hickey said Wynne got a bottle of Dettol in the garage and said he had to wash the gunpowder off him.

The witness said when he met Wynne the next day he was distant and not himself.

“He seemed a bit distant like, he wasn’t himself at all…he was after shooting his best friend in the face,” said Mr Hickey.

Under cross-examination by James Kelly BL defending he agreed that Wynne was panicky and had asked him for an alibi at the front door.

He further agreed that he immediately gave him that alibi and then made a second statement to gardai retracting it.

“He was always going on about shooting someone…He’s after shooting someone in the face who was meant to be his best friend,” Mr Hickey told the court.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis told the court the cause of death was a shotgun wound to the head.

The pathologist said the right eye was completely destroyed and there were extensive fractures to the skull.

The pathologist said there was evidence the shot was discharged from a couple of feet or so.

Dr Curtis said there were a number of areas of blunt force injury to his body, some of which were caused when he collapsed, some from medical intervention and some from a scuffle in the previous 24 hours.

He said the level of alcohol in his blood was 128mg per cent and cannabis was found in his system.

The pathologist said that if the gun had been discharged at knee level it would most likely result in a limb injury.

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