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Man killed ex-partner ‘because she was with my friend’, court hears

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A 34-year-old man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend Nadine Lott told a motorist he had “killed my wife because she was with my friend”, just hours after he assaulted her, a trial has heard.

The jury also heard on Thursday Daniel Murtagh told a paramedic that he had killed his “girlfriend” after crashing his car into a ditch in the early hours of the morning. “In the back of the ambulance he was telling me how much he loved his girlfriend but they had a fight,” the witness said.

Opening the trial on Tuesday, prosecution counsel John O’Kelly SC said Ms Lott suffered “severe blunt force trauma” and stab injuries at the hands of her former partner “in a sustained attack” in her Arklow home.

The barrister said the court will hear evidence that the injuries to Ms Lott were so serious she never regained consciousness after the attack on December 14th, 2019 and she died three days later in St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin on December 17th. An intensive care nurse at the hospital has told the jury that Ms Lott was “completely unrecognisable” and she had never seen anybody so badly injured.

Mr Murtagh of Melrose Grove, Bawnogue, Clondalkin, Dublin has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of his 30-year-old ex-partner at her apartment in St Mary’s Court, Arklow, Co Wicklow on December 17th, 2019.

Giving evidence today, John Begley said he saw a car in a ditch as he was travelling over Bookies Bridge in Laragh, Co Wicklow with his wife on the morning of December 14th. He initially thought “some guy” was out at their Christmas party and had crashed their car into the ditch. When he saw no one was in the car he continued driving on but then saw “a chap” standing on the side of the road at Laragh GAA pitch.

“He was staggering, his legs weren’t moving. I presumed at the time that it was a guy who had a few drinks and had crashed his car,” he said.

‘I killed my wife’

The man fell to the ground as Mr Begley drove by so he reversed his car. Mr Begley said he spoke to the man, who was lying on his stomach, and asked if he was okay then got a coat and umbrella out of his vehicle to keep him dry.

“When he fell his head was facing back towards Rathdrum and his feet facing towards Laragh village,” he said, adding that his trousers and pants were around his knees and he had no shoes on. He asked his wife to ring an ambulance as he did not know how serious the man was hurt.

The witness said the man told him that his name was Daniel and he was from Clondalkin. He noticed the accused had blood on the side of his head and hand. “He asked me ‘are you a guard’ and told me ‘you’re not very good at interrogating’,” he said. Mr Begley was with the accused man for around an hour until the ambulance arrived.

When gardaí arrived at the scene, the witness said that Mr Murtagh got very agitated. Mr Begley continued: “He then said to me ‘you don’t know what I’ve done”. I said what did you do. He said ‘I killed my wife’. I didn’t think anything of it. He said it a second time and said he hoped she was not dead. He said ‘she was with my friend’.”

Mr Begley told the jury that what the accused said to him the first time had “passed” him by but he was “taken aback” or “stunned” when he said it a second time and “thought something serious is going on here”. The witness said he remained with the accused until the ambulance arrived at 8.50am.

Under cross-examination, the witness agreed with defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC that he had acted as the “good Samaritan who didn’t drive by” when he saw someone standing on the edge of the road needing help. He said the accused, who smelled of alcohol, had told him his name three times but he could not grasp it as it was “very slurred”.

Mr Begley told Mr Grehan gardaí had arrived at the scene but were further down the road when the accused said “you don’t know what I’ve done”. He agreed with Mr Grehan that the accused had also told him that he had killed his “wife because she was with his friend”. Mr Begley also recalled Mr Murtagh saying: “I hope she is not dead, tell my family I’m sorry.”

Impartial

Paramedic Patrick Naughton testified that he got a call to go to the scene of a road traffic accident at Laragh on the morning of December 14th and arrived there at 8.48am. When he arrived, a passerby was attending to a man, who had a few jackets over him to keep him warm.

The witness said the patient, who he now knows to be Mr Murtagh, was complaining of neck, back and leg pain. He pulled a blanket away to check for injuries and he noted the man’s trousers were around his ankles. The patient told him he had post traumatic stress disorder and described him as confused. “He said he had taken two valium at 10pm the day before and had been drinking,” the witness add.

Mr Naughton said he was shocked when Murtagh told him he had killed his girlfriend. “I didn’t know what to say and he said it again,” he continued. The witness told his colleague what the accused had said and the other paramedic informed gardaí. “He then asked me was I with him or against him; my reply was that I was impartial,” he said.

Mr Murtagh’s nose was bleeding, he had a bruise to the left temple and he was about 100m away from where the crash had occurred. When asked what had happened, Mr Murtagh said he had been driving and “it was a good crash”.

The paramedics brought him by ambulance to Tallaght Hospital and they arrived at the resuscitation unit at 10.06am. “In the back of the ambulance he was telling me how much he loved his girlfriend but they had a fight,” said Mr Naughton, adding that he got the impression that the couple had been together for years.

Under cross-examination, the witness told Mr Grehan that his client was confused throughout his dealings with him and was not able to inform him how his car had ended up in the ditch. He said he had killed his girlfriend “out of the blue”. He agreed that Mr Murtagh had kept repeating that he loved his girlfriend in the back of the ambulance, that they had been together for years but they had a fight.

CCTV footage was also shown to the jury of Mr Murtagh driving his Volvo car “somewhat erratically” from St Mary’s Court at 4.22am on December 14th. Under cross-examination, Detective Garda Róisín Rowley-Brook agreed with Mr Grehan that two witnesses gave evidence yesterday that the accused had left the scene in Ms Lott’s BMW car but they were “clearly wrong about that”.

Fingermark

Fingerprint expert Det Sgt Conor Lawler testified that a fingermark found on a press in Ms Lott’s kitchen was made by Mr Murtagh’s left ring finger. He agreed with Mr Grehan that there was only a match for one fingerprint belonging to Mr Murtagh at the scene despite 15 marks being sent for analysis.

Det Gda Alan Curry, who is a trained scene of crimes examiner, said he arrived at Ms Lott’s house at 2pm on December 14th and noted that there was a lot of broken glass in the living room and the major concentration of blood was found between two sofas.

There was a lot of blood in the kitchen, he said, and a lot of broken ornaments. “The blood was consistent with a sustained attack,” he stated. The witness said he found hair and clumps of hair in the apartment as well as strands of hair on the skirting board on the side of a door.

Det Gda Curry agreed with Mr Grehan that quite a number of people had been through a very tight space that night, especially the kitchen, which was only about three foot wide. He also agreed that paramedics had moved Nadine from the corner of the kitchen into the sitting room so they could attempt CPR on her for quite a while.

He further agreed that Nadine was bleeding from a number of different places but particularly her face. Given the amount of blood present at St Mary’s Court, the witness said an assault had taken place.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Michael MacGrath.

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

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Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

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Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.



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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

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House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.

Price

This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.

Soure: MyHome.ie

“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.

Homes

Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”


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