RICHARD Burke, the man accused of killing Jasmine McMonagle, has been found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.
The jury had been told by trial judge Mr Justice Paul Burns that all the evidence in Burke’s trial pointed to a manslaughter verdict. The jury took just over an hour to agree.
Following the verdict Mr Justice Burns was thanked by a member of Ms McMonagle’s family when he extended his sincere sympathies to them.
Burke (32) had pleaded not guilty to murdering his then partner Ms McMonagle at Forest Park, Killygordon on January 4, 2019.
During the course of three interviews conducted with gardaí the accused said he and Ms McMonagle had been fighting. He said he “went ballistic” after he discovered she had made a 999 call to gardaí for help.
“I have a real bad temper, I just blanked I went ballistic, absolutely f***ing ballistic. Because I hate guards I just went ballistic, started punching the f**k out of her then strangling her with a rope. I was only trying to make her see sense.”
Before sending them out to consider their verdict, Mr Justice Burns told the jury that the parties all agreed on the evidence. The accused, he said, accepted that he killed Ms McMonagle and the issue for the jury to decide was whether that killing amounted to manslaughter or murder.
The evidence of two psychiatrists who gave evidence in the trial was that the accused was suffering from a mental disorder at the time and that his responsibility for her killing was substantially diminished. Mr Justice Burns said there were theoretically three verdicts available – Guilty, not guilty or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.
“The medical evidence all goes one way, in favour or a verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. That is the medical evidence, it is not disputed,” said the judge.
In her final address to the jury Senior Counsel for the prosecution, Anne Marie Lawlor SC, urged them to return a verdict in accordance with the evidence and in accordance with the oath they had taken.
She said, “The evidence is all in one direction. There is nothing before you to suggest that the psychiatrists are incorrect in their conclusion regarding the mental state of Mr Burke.”
Ms Lawlor added that it was impossible to imagine that the jury would not have enormous sympathy with Ms McMonagle’s family.
She said the deceased was a devoted mother of two children and was deeply loved by her friends and family. Her death was “senseless and horrific” and had left her family devastated.
“Putting sympathy for her family aside will be difficult but it is nevertheless required of you. In considering the evidence you are called upon to apply the law in accordance with your oath,” said Ms Lawlor.
Senior Counsel for the defence Michael Bowman said that the evidence from two eminent psychiatrists was that Burke was suffering from a mental disorder and should be found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder by reason of diminished responsibility.