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Nadine Lott suffered ‘severe blunt force trauma’, murder trial is told

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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.

‘Probable consequences’

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.

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.

Met in Australia

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.

Heard someone scream

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.

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 31 kms 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.

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Higgins raises concerns over volume of legislation received in recent weeks

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Two Oireachtas committees are being convened at short notice to consider concerns raised by President Michael D. Higgins at the volume of legislation sent to his office in recent weeks.

In a letter to the Ceann Comhairle, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and the Department of the Taoiseach, Mr Higgins said an “overwhelming number of Bills” were presented for his consideration in the final two weeks before the Christmas and summer recesses.

“For example, in the three weeks since the beginning of July I have been asked to consider 19 separate Bills. Nine were presented on the one day, sharing a requirement to be considered and signed in the same seven-day period,” he wrote, pointing out that in the entire preceding six months, he was presented with 13 Bills for consideration.

Last year, 21 of the total of 32 Bills presented to him were sent in the weeks approaching summer and Christmas recesses.

“It would strike me, as President and from my years as a parliamentarian, that there must be a more orderly approach to arranging the legislative timetable that allows all legislators the time to consider and contribute to proposals before the Oireachtas without unnecessary time constraints and an unseemly end-of-term haste to have Bills concluded,” the President wrote.

“Having this vital work concentrated into four weeks of the year strikes me as being less than ideal and, I believe, unnecessary.”

Mr Higgins noted that little time was being given over in the Oireachtas to debate often “very important and far-reaching legislative proposals”.

He said the process has “been curtailed through the imposition of restrictions on time in one or both Houses”.

He said amendments put down by Oireachtas members were often not discussed, and those proposed by the Government were at times “carried without an opportunity for scrutiny or debate”.

The President noted an “unseemly end-of-term haste”to pass legislation and said a “real prospect” of having to convene the Council of State in the days after Christmas day to consider Bills had arisen more than once.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl, the Ceann Comhairle, told The Irish Times that the Dáil’s Business Committee and the Seanad’s Committee on Procedures would meet on Friday to consider the letter, and actions open to the Oireachtas to consider.

There have been renewed concerns during the lifetime of this Dáil about the use of the guillotine to force Government legislation through without extensive oversight, with several heavyweight pieces of legislation passed in a matter of days before the Oireachtas rose for its summer break earlier this month.

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Who do I need to notify if I move home?

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Moving house is frequently said to be one of the most stressful things anyone can do.

The massive investment both financially and emotionally can take its toll, especially if the process takes months to complete.

It is why anything that helps to elevate some of the stress along the way can be hugely beneficial. This includes addressing some of the practicalities in advance, and having a list of who to notify when you move can help. 

We look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home

We look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home

Dozens of companies will need to know your new address, whether this is an insurer who may use them to help calculate your insurance premiums or a retailer who need to know where to send the clothing you ordered online.

Without updating them, you may endure a bigger headache from moving home than you had anticipated.

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf, said: ‘When moving home, it is vital to plan ahead. Moving day can come upon you very quickly, particularly if there is a short time between exchange and completion.

‘Buildings insurance is the most important thing that needs arranging on your new property as soon as you have exchanged contracts.

‘Confirm your moving date with your removals firm and make a list of who needs notifying about your impending change of address – the electoral roll, the DVLA, Amazon and other delivery firms, particularly supermarket deliveries. The last thing you want is for your orders to turn up at your ‘old’ address once you have moved.

‘Don’t forget to change your council tax, while utility providers will also need informing, and given final meter readings. The more you plan ahead, the smoother the process will be.’ 

A checklist for who to notify when you change address can help to elevate some of the stress of moving home

A checklist for who to notify when you change address can help to elevate some of the stress of moving home

Tom Parker, of property website Zoopla, agreed: ‘Moving home can be overwhelming with so much to do. When it comes to notifying organisations, it’s best to divide it into digestible categories like work, household and vehicle.

‘Notifying your employer is a top priority, especially if your payslips are sent to your home. If you own a vehicle, ensure you update your driving licence, insurance providers and vehicle logbook.  

‘Make sure you also notify organisations like your broadband, utilities, insurance providers and council tax. Finally, don’t forget the small things like magazine subscriptions and store cards.’

Here we look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home.

Employment 

Perhaps one of the most important and probably most overlooked places that need to be notified of your change of address is HMRC, which needs to know for tax purposes.  

Similarly, your employer needs to know when you change address for your payroll, so that it can update your contact details.

In addition, your National Insurance number helps the Government to identify you and is used by the organisations such as the DVLA and HMRC, so this will need your new address attached. 

Household

There are various companies providing services to your household that will need to know about your move so that they can update your contact information.

In some cases, you may end up continuing to pay for a service in your former home that you are no longer using if you fail to update these companies.

They include your cable or satellite provider, your phone and broadband company. It is also important to update your TV licence contact details, which can be done up to three months before a move.

Vehicles

You can update DVLA via its website and within two to four weeks, you should receive an updated licence and V5C log book documents for your car. Failing to update the log book could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.

You will also need to notify the supplier of your vehicle breakdown cover and your car insurer.

Insurance

Most insurers take postcodes into account when calculating premiums and the cost of insurance cover, so they will need to be notified of your change of address. 

You may need to contact those insurers who provide cover for household contents, health, life, travel and your pets.

Healthcare

As well as your health insurer, you will also need to provide your address to other healthcare organisations.

For example, if you change doctors when you move home, you will need to let your old doctor know so that your medical information can be forwarded to your new doctor. This may similarly apply to your dentists and opticians.

Utilities

Your gas, electricity and water suppliers will need your updated contact information, even if you are leaving them behind at the old property and taking on new suppliers.

It can take a couple of days for energy providers to update your information, so it is worth contacting your suppliers ahead of your move. However, you may be able to move your deal to your new property.

Make sure you take readings of your utilities on the day of your move so you can update your suppliers with these and only pay for the amounts you have used. 

Royal Mail’s redirection service may be worth considering as it forwards any post sent to your former address to your new address. You can apply for the redirection up to three months before your moving date.

Money

There are several companies and organisations that fall into this category and will need to know your new contact address.

They include bank and building societies, your pension providers, loan companies, credit card providers and store cards. If you are on a state pension, the Government will need to know your new details.

Similarly, you will need to update your address for council tax purposes.

Others include your accountant as you don’t want important tax documents going to your old address (if you are not using the a postal redirection service). And don’t forget updating NS&I with your new address if you put money into premium bonds.

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Ireland ‘one of world’s best five places’ to survive global societal collapse

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Ireland is one of the world’s five places best suited to survive a global collapse of society, according to a new study. The others are Iceland, Tasmania, the UK and, topping the list, New Zealand.

The researchers say human civilisation is “in a perilous state” because of the highly interconnected and energy-intensive society that has developed and the environmental damage this has caused.

A collapse could arise from shocks such as a severe financial crisis, the effects of the climate crisis, destruction of nature, an even worse pandemic than Covid-19 or a combination of these, the scientists says.

To assess which nations would be most resilient to such a collapse, countries were ranked according to their ability to grow food for their population, protect their borders from unwanted mass migration, and maintain an electrical grid and some manufacturing ability. Islands in temperate regions and mostly with low population densities have come out on top.

The researchers say their study highlights the factors that nations must improve to increase resilience. They say that a globalised society that prizes economic efficiency has damaged resilience, and that spare capacity needs to exist in food and other vital sectors.

Billionaires have been reported to be buying land for bunkers in New Zealand in preparation for an apocalypse. “We weren’t surprised New Zealand was on our list,” says Prof Aled Jones, at the Global Sustainability Institute, at Anglia Ruskin University, in the UK.

“We chose that you had to be able to protect borders and places had to be temperate. So with hindsight it’s quite obvious that large islands with complex societies on them already” make up the list.

The study, published in the journal Sustainability, says: “The globe-spanning, energy-intensive industrial civilisation that characterises the modern era represents an anomalous situation when it is considered against the majority of human history.”

The study also says that environmental destruction, limited resources and population growth mean civilisation “is in a perilous state, with large and growing risks developing in multiple spheres of the human endeavour”.

New Zealand was found to have the greatest potential to survive relatively unscathed due to its geothermal and hydroelectric energy, abundant agricultural land and low human population density.

Jones says major global food losses, a financial crisis and a pandemic have all happened in recent years, and “we’ve been lucky that things haven’t all happened at the same time – there’s no real reason why they can’t all happen in the same year”.

He adds: “As you start to see these events happening I get more worried, but I also hope we can learn more quickly than we have in the past that resilience is important. With everyone talking about ‘building back better’ from the pandemic, if we don’t lose that momentum I might be more optimistic than I have been in the past.”

He says the coronavirus pandemic has shown that governments can act quickly when needed. “It’s interesting how quickly we can close borders, and how quickly governments can make decisions to change things.”

But, he adds, “This drive for just-in-time, ever-more-efficient economies isn’t the thing you want to do for resilience. We need to build in some slack in the system, so that if there is a shock then you have the ability to respond because you’ve got spare capacity. We need to start thinking about resilience much more in global planning. But, obviously, the ideal thing is that a quick collapse doesn’t happen.” – Guardian

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