Accused tells trial he accidentally stabbed visitor to his home

By Natasha Reid

A Kilkenny father of five has told his murder trial that he accidentally stabbed a visitor to his home while taking a knife from his nephew to prevent him self-harming.

Tadhg Butler, previously known as Thomas O’Grady, was giving evidence in his defence today on the fifth day of his trial at the Central Criminal Court.

The 37-year-old, with an address at Seafield in Tramore, Co Waterford, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Michael O’Dwyer on 10 January 2014. The 25-year-old died in hospital, hours after receiving a stab wound at a party in Mr Butler’s house in Seafield.

The court has heard that Mr Butler’s nephew, Anthony (Tony) O’Grady, told gardai that Mr Butler had walked over and stabbed his friend as they sat and chatted.

However, Mr Butler entered the witness box yesterday and gave a different account.

He told Michael Bowman SC, defending, that Mr O’Grady and the deceased had visited him in Tramore with another friend that night. He said that they had been drinking and that the mood had been good until Mr O’Grady became upset about his brother’s death a few years earlier.

Mr Butler told the court that he had tried to talk to his nephew about it.

“Then, Tony said to me: ‘F*ck up, it’s nothing to do with you. He went out to kitchen, grabbed the knife,” he said. “He held up his hand and said: ‘I’m sick of this f*cking life.’ That’s when me and him got into it.”

Mr Butler said that he obviously didn’t want to see his nephew cutting himself up, but knew that he was capable of it from previous experience.

“I tried to get the knife out of his hand,” he continued. “I pinned the knife around his back and pinned him up against the wall and tried to get the knife off him.”

Mr Butler demonstrated his movements in the witness box.

“I didn't know that Michael was on the left-hand side of me,” he said. “When I pulled away with the knife, I didn't even realise the knife was in Michael’s chest. I still had the knife in my hand.”

He said that he didn’t realise that he had struck Mr O’Dwyer until he collapsed.

Denis Vaughan Buckley SC, prosecuting, cross examined him about what he had told gardai in interviews. The jury earlier heard that he told his interviewers that he had strong religious beliefs and attended prayer meetings.

Garda Jennifer Ryan testified that he told her and a colleague that the incident had nothing to do with him.

She told Tony McGillicuddy SC, prosecuting, that they asked him if he was sorry about Mr O’Dwyer’s death.

“I’m saddened by his death and saddened for his family members for the way they feel, like everyone else,” he replied.

“Do you respect life?” he was asked.

“Yeah, of course I do,” he replied.

They asked how he felt about being arrested.

“Well you know, these things happen,” he said.

He was asked how religious he was.

“I go to Mass every Sunday, say the rosary,” he replied.

“What else?” asked the gardai.

“Prayer meetings,” he added, agreeing that he had strong religious beliefs.

“Thou shalt not kill. What do you think of that?” he was asked.

“Yeah, it’s in the commandments,” he agreed.

“It’s a big one,” it was suggested.

“Yeah, if someone knowingly did it,” he replied.

Mr Vaughan Buckley will continue his cross-examination tomorrow morning before Mr Justice Paul Butler and a jury of six men and six women.

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