Jury fail to reach agreement in Waterford fisherman murder trial

Jury Fail To Reach Agreement In Waterford Fisherman Murder Trial
Dean Kerrie (20), with an address in Portarlington, Co Laois: Photo: Collins Courts
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Ann O'Loughlin

A Central Criminal Court jury was unable to reach a verdict in the murder trial of a 20-year-old man, who said he acted in self defence and was protecting his home when a drunk fisherman entered as a trespasser.

Dean Kerrie said that after Jack Power had smashed the front window of his home, kicked in the door and attacked his family, the deceased received a knife wound to the chest when he "lost his footing and fell onto the knife". The accused had asked for a complete acquittal.


"I asked him to leave my house and to stop what he was doing. He started to kick me and I tried to move out of the way. I was trying to get out of his way, he ended up stabbed," Mr Kerrie, who was 17 at the time of the incident, told the jury.

The prosecution's case was that Mr Kerrie was not acting in self defence, that he knew he was using excessive force when he "deliberately" stabbed 25-year-old Mr Power in the chest and there was nothing accidental about the incident.

However, after approximately six hours and 53 minutes of deliberations, the jury returned today unable to reach a verdict.

The seven men and four women of the jury began considering their verdict on Tuesday afternoon and had deliberated for five hours and 17 minutes when the judge gave them the option of reaching a majority verdict or a possible disagreement.


No verdict

The 11 jurors returned less than two hours later and when the registrar asked the forewoman of the jury if they had reached a verdict on which at least ten of them agreed, she said "No".

Ms Justice Eileen Creedon said the jury had written ‘Disagreement’ next to the count on the issue paper and thanked them for their service. "I know this was a very difficult case, and thank you for the time you gave to it," she added.

The judge exempted them from jury service for ten years.


She remanded Mr Kerrie on continuing bail on the same terms and conditions until the next list of fixed dates at the Central Criminal Court on February 29th.

Mr Kerrie made no reaction when the disagreement was announced.

The two-week murder trial at the Central Criminal Court heard that Mr Power sustained a single stab wound to the front of the chest which penetrated his heart.

Counsel for the DPP, Michael Delaney SC, said the jury could be satisfied that the prosecution had proved the case of murder against Mr Kerrie beyond a reasonable doubt.


Whilst the defence said in its closing address that this was an enormous tragic event, they submitted it was an act of self defence. "Mr Kerrie had no intention to do anything other than protect his own home," said defence barrister Ciaran O'Loughlin SC.

Self defence

The jury had the option of returning three verdicts in relation to the murder charge against Mr Kerrie, namely; guilty of murder, not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter or not guilty.

In her charge to the jury, Ms Justice Creedon said if they were satisfied that Mr Kerrie was not acting in self defence, that the accused knew that the force used by him was excessive and that he intended to kill or cause serious harm to Mr Power, then the offence of murder had been set out.

If, having considered the evidence, the jury found Mr Kerrie had an honest belief that Mr Power had entered the house as a trespasser to commit a criminal act and they found the force used by Mr Kerrie was reasonable, then the accused was not acting unlawfully and should be acquitted.


If the jury found that Mr Kerrie had an honest belief that Mr Power entered the house as a trespasser but that the accused employed more force than necessary in the circumstances but no more force than he felt was reasonable, then they must return a verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

Mr Kerrie (20), with an address at St Brigid's Square, Portarlington in Co Laois had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Power (25) at Shanakiel, Dunmore East, Co Waterford on July 26th, 2018.

Mr Kerrie took to the stand at his own trial last week, telling the jury that Mr Power had kicked in the front door of his home, attacked him and threatened to kill his mother.

'Pack of lies'

Under cross-examination, prosecution counsel Mr Delaney put it to the accused that it was "a pack of lies" to suggest Mr Power had "fallen on the knife" and submitted that the accused had instead deliberately stabbed him.

Mr Kerrie said that Mr Power had "tried to kick the knife out of my hand. I went to move out of the way at the same time and then when he came in on top of me he lost his footing."

In his closing speech, Mr Delaney said the case "bore out the true folly of taking the law into your own hands". The defendant, he argued, could have let Mr Power walk out of his house that night but decided to take the law into his hands "at a level much greater and with much deadlier consequences" than Mr Power intended when he entered the Kerrie home.

Describing Mr Kerrie's account as "inherently implausible" and "stretching credibility", Mr Delaney suggested to the defendant when he was on the stand that this was an act of retaliation and not an act of self-defence, which the accused denied.

Mr Kerrie also refuted the proposition from counsel that he had deliberately stabbed Mr Power in the chest and there was nothing accidental about the incident. "That's not true," said the accused.

The lawyer told the jurors in his closing speech that "the most telling piece of evidence" were the accused's words heard in the background that night when his mother was on the phone to gardaí. These, he said, were not the words of someone who was in fear of their life as Mr Kerrie had told gardaí on the phone that night.

Dean Kerrie has now been remanded on continuing bail until March 3rd.

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