Nadine Lott suffered "severe blunt force trauma" and stab injuries at the hands of her former partner "in a sustained attack" in her Arklow home, a Central Criminal Court jury has heard.
Opening the trial of Daniel Murtagh on Tuesday, prosecution counsel John O'Kelly SC said the court will hear evidence that the injuries to Ms Lott were "so serious" that she never regained consciousness and died three days later in St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin.
Mr Murtagh (34), of Melrose Grove, Bawnogue, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of his 30-year-old ex-partner Ms Lott at her apartment in St Mary's Court, Arklow, Co Wicklow on December 17th, 2019.
Following the opening address, defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr Murtagh, made a number of admissions of fact to the court on behalf of his client. These included that the accused accepted that he had unlawfully killed Ms Lott and he "alone inflicted the injuries she suffered".
The issue to be decided by the jury, Mr Grehan said, will be his intent and in the "broader sense his mental state at the time".
Addressing the jury of seven men and five women, Mr O'Kelly said a case "like this can be very distressing" and there would be a lot of "very distressing issues" which will arise in the trial. "But you as judges have to approach the evidence objectively," he said.
One cannot get inside the mind of Mr Murtagh on the day when he inflicted those injuries on Ms Lott, Mr O'Kelly said, but what one can do is look at his conduct when he inflicted them and "ask ourselves what are the natural and probable consequences of doing that to someone".
"If you want to know what someone intended to do, look at what they did," he added.
Context and conduct
Counsel asked the jury to look at the facts, context and conduct of Mr Murtagh when he inflicted the injuries to Ms Lott. "On that basis you will reach your conclusion as to his intent at the time," he indicated.
Outlining the facts of the case, Mr O'Kelly said that Ms Lott lived in Wicklow and it was arranged that Mr Murtagh would come down from Dublin on the evening of December 13th. It was later decided that Mr Murtagh would stay overnight in Ms Lott's apartment.
One of the things that made this later arrangement more suitable, the barrister said, was that a birthday party had been organised for Ms Lott's aunt, which was being held in the local pub. "Friends of the family were going along and Nadine was bringing a cake," he remarked.
As a result of Mr Murtagh staying overnight in Ms Lott's apartment, this meant Ms Lott could go to the "family do", he said.
Detailing the background of the accused and Ms Lott's relationship, counsel said they had met in Darwin in Australia when the Arklow woman was on "a year's working holiday". Having spent some time in Perth, Ms Lott had moved to Darwin where she met Mr Murtagh, the court heard.
Despite the fact that both individuals were from Ireland, Mr O'Kelly said, they had never encountered each other before their meeting in Darwin. The pair started going out together and Ms Lott later arranged to return to Ireland, he said. Mr Murtagh stayed on in Australia for some months and then he also returned to Ireland.
Upon his return, Mr Murtagh lived with Ms Lott and her mother for some time. The accused and Ms Lott moved into an apartment after a few months, but unfortunately that did not really work out, said counsel.
"It ended up with Nadine moving back into her mother's and Mr Murtagh went back to his parents in Clondalkin," he said.
Around 2016, Ms Lott and Mr Murtagh got back together again for a short while, and they planned to get a house or an apartment but this "fell through".
On the evening before the killing, Ms Lott got changed and went out to her aunt's birthday party. The mother-of-one left the party around 1.30am and got a taxi with a couple of other people from the party back to her apartment.
Mr O'Kelly said the events of the next couple of hours are unclear, but it did appear that Ms Lott had got dressed for bed as she had changed into her pyjamas and her dress had been folded.
Shortly after 3.30am, Mr O'Kelly said the evidence will be that a neighbour heard someone scream. "There was a lot of noise and some time after 4am, the neighbour looked out the window of their apartment and could see that the door to Ms Lott's apartment was open," he said.
Eventually one of the neighbours who had looked out of the window decided to go to Ms Lott's apartment and see what was happening. She saw Ms Lott being "attacked" on the ground of the living room by Mr Murtagh.
The neighbour then contacted emergency services and paramedics came to the scene.
The court will also hear evidence, the lawyer said, from the first garda who arrived at the house before the paramedics. "She was taking instructions over the telephone for CPR," he added.
Ms Lott's mother also came to her daughter's house before paramedics arrived and assisted at the scene.
Ms Lott was brought by ambulance to St Vincent's Hospital. The jury will also hear evidence of how she was "moved on from the trauma team into the intensive care unit" and remained there "under intense treatment" for the next few days until she died on December 17th.
The court heard there will be forensic evidence of what was found in the apartment and a report from the State Pathologist who carried out the post-mortem on the deceased.
Mr O'Kelly said there was evidence of extensive blunt force trauma to Ms Lott's face, an incised wound to the left side of the neck and a stab wound to the right side of the neck. "All the injuries combined to cause significant haemorrhage and blood loss and suggest a sustained assault from blunt force trauma. It led to the development of multiple cardiac arrest resulting in traumatic brain injury," he said.
Essentially, Mr O'Kelly said Mr Murtagh had engaged in a series of actions in the early hours of the morning of December 14th, where he inflicted severe blunt force trauma and stabbing injuries to Ms Lott "in a sustained attack". Although paramedics were able to resuscitate her, her injuries were so serious that she never regained consciousness and she died three days later on December 17th, he outlined.
In relation to the evidence against the accused, Mr O'Kelly said he left the apartment around 4.30am after "the attack" and took his Volvo car from outside and drove it away. "We don't know what happened for the next few hours," he said.
Around 7am that morning and some 31km's away from Ms Lott's apartment, Mr Murtagh crashed his car into a ditch in Laragh and received some minor injuries. Some people noticed him and stopped their car to look after him. The jury will hear that Mr Murtagh told the man that he had "killed his wife".
Mr O'Kelly said the accused also told paramedics that he had "killed his girlfriend". "The prosecution submit that what is significant is that when Mr Murtagh met these people the next morning between 7.30am and 8am, his state of mind was that he had killed Nadine," said counsel.
The trial continues this afternoon before Mr Justice Michael MacGrath and 12 jurors. It is expected to last two weeks.