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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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Facebook admits high-profile users are treated differently

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Facebook’s oversight board said the social media company hadn’t been “fully forthcoming” about internal rules that allowed some high-profile users to be exempt from content restrictions and said it will make recommendations on how to change the system.

In the first of its quarterly transparency reports published Thursday, the board said that on some occasions, Facebook “failed to provide relevant information to the board,” and in other instances the information it did provide was incomplete.

For example, when Facebook referred the case involving former US president Donald Trump to the board, it didn’t mention its internal “cross-check system” that allowed for a different set of rules for high-profile users.

Facebook only mentioned cross-check, or XCheck, to the board when asked whether Trump’s page or account had been subject to ordinary content moderation processes.

The cross-check system was disclosed in recent reporting by the Wall Street Journal, based in part on documents from a whistle-blower.

The journal described how the cross-check system, originally intended to be a quality-control measure for a select few high-profile users and designed to avoid public relations backlash over famous people who mistakenly have their posts taken down, had ballooned to include millions of accounts.

The oversight board said it will undertake a review of the cross-check system and make suggestions on how to improve it.

As part of the process, Facebook has agreed to share with the board relevant documents about the cross-check system as reported in the Wall Street Journal. – Bloomberg

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Green mortgages may leave owners of older homes unable to sell

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Estate agents warn owners of older homes, rural houses and listed properties could struggle to sell under green mortgage plans

  • Boris Johnson has unveiled his plans for turning Britain green by 2050 
  • The plans include proposals on how to make the housing stock greener 
  • The plans would see lenders disclose the energy performance of properties










Homeowners living in older, rural and even listed properties risk being unable to sell if strict green finance targets are introduced, estate agents have warned.

The warning comes after Boris Johnson unveiled his plan for turning Britain green by 2050 this week, with mortgage lenders having targets for the energy performance of properties in their portfolio.

A body that represents estate agents across Britain claimed that the property market could be distorted as a result of the measures and called for Britain’s historic housing stock to be taken into account.

Boris Johnson revealed proposals on how to make the housing stock greener this week

Boris Johnson revealed proposals on how to make the housing stock greener this week

Timothy Douglas, of Propertymark, said: ‘Incentivising green improvements to properties via lending creates risks of trapping homeowners with older properties, those who live in rural areas, listed buildings or conservation areas, making their homes difficult to sell and therefore reducing the value.’

Propertymark said that those living in older properties could be left with homes that they could not sell if buyers were unable to secure finance on them due to their lower energy efficiencies.

The effect would be likely to be felt more by less wealthy owners, as deep-pocketed buyers would be more able to overlook mortgage restrictions and high-end older homes would continue to be desirable.

Mr Douglas said: ‘The use of targets could distort the market and sway lenders towards preferential, newer homes in order to improve the rating of their portfolio.

‘Stopping a large portion of housing stock from being able to enter the market could cause havoc for home buying and selling as well as the wider economy.’ 

He added that improving the energy efficiency of homes should be reliant on consumer choice and not something enforced by mortgage lenders, with all the knock-on effects this could entail.

He said: ‘We would be concerned if lenders raise rates and limit products because fundamentally, improving the energy performance of a property is reliant on consumer choice and it is not the core business of mortgage lenders.’

Mark Harris, of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: ‘The green agenda is not new but there is increasing impetus behind it. There are more green mortgage products aimed at those purchasing more energy-efficient properties – A-C rated, and not just from specialist lenders but the high street banks too.

‘However, there is a real danger that green initiatives could create the next round of mortgage prisoners if homeowners are trapped in older homes that can’t be improved, so they can’t move because they can’t sell them on.

‘Without changes or improvements, lenders may restrict lending to lower loan-to-values, higher pricing, or not lend at all. This could penalise those who are unable to adapt to or adopt new efficient technologies economically.’

A UK Finance spokesperson said: ‘Greening our housing stock is vital if we are to meet our climate change obligations and banks and finance providers are committed to helping achieve this goal and making sure consumers are not left behind.’

Ways to boost energy efficiency  

Propertymark recommends three measures to improve the energy efficiency of homes without negatively impacting the housing market.

1. Improvements linked to an EPC

These include linking a plan for energy efficiency improvements to the recommendations on a property’s Energy Performance Certificate.

It could demonstrate the ‘most suitable route’ to a warmer home, regulatory compliance and zero carbon, according to Propertymark.

2. Tax breaks

It also recommends using tax breaks to incentivise homeowners to finance energy efficiency improvements.

For example, these could include making energy improvements exempt from VAT or offering lower rates of council tax for homes that have been made more energy efficient.

3. Adjustable tax rates

An adjustable rate of property tax that is tied to energy performance is also being recommended by Propertymark.

This could be done in two ways, it suggested. First, by applying the adjustment as a reduction on more energy-efficient properties. And second by offering rebates to buyers if energy efficiency improvements are made to less efficient properties within a certain time period after purchase.

Propertymark said that by linking energy performance with property taxes, this could help introduce increased saleability for more energy-efficient properties. In addition, it suggested that improvements would become standard for homeowners seeking costs and improve the desirability of their homes.

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Johnson rules out face masks as UK’s daily Covid cases rise above 50,000

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Daily coronavirus cases in Britain have risen above 50,000 for the first time since July, but Boris Johnson said he will not bring back compulsory face coverings or introduce vaccine passports.

Speaking in Northern Ireland, the prime minister said his government was holding firm to its policy of no legal restrictions introduced in July, but was watching the numbers carefully.

“The numbers of infections are high but we are within the parameters of what the predictions were,” he said. “We are sticking with our plan.”

Mr Johnson acknowledged the “patchiness” of Britain’s vaccination programme, urging people to come forward for their booster jabs as soon as they are invited to do so. But Labour leader Keir Starmer said the government should beef up the programme, ensure that more children were vaccinated and aim to deliver half a million jabs a day.

“The government said that the vaccine would be the security wall against the virus and now the government is letting that wall crumble,” he said.

“We’ve seen those that most need it not able to get the jab they need. Only, I think, 17 per cent of children have got the vaccine. And the booster programme has slowed down so much that at this rate we’re not going to complete it until spring of next year. So the government needs to change these, it needs to get a grip. I think it needs to drive those numbers up to at least 500,000 vaccines a day.”

Vaccine passports

The British Medical Association (BMA) accused the government of “wilful negligence” in not bringing back some restrictions, and of failing to learn the lessons of a parliamentary report last week about its handling of the pandemic. The association’s chairman, Chaand Nagpaul, said doctors could say categorically that it was time to bring back compulsory face masks and to introduce vaccine passports.

“By the health secretary’s own admission we could soon see 100,000 cases a day, and we now have the same number of weekly Covid deaths as we had during March, when the country was in lockdown,” he said.

“It is, therefore, incredibly concerning that he is not willing to take immediate action to save lives and protect the NHS. ”

Health secretary Sajid Javid warned this week that some restrictions could be introduced if the public failed to exercise caution and to take up vaccination offers. He acknowledged that Conservative MPs could show an example by wearing masks in the House of Commons, but house leader Jacob Rees-Mogg on Thursday rejected the suggestion.

Crowded spaces

“There is no advice to wear face masks in workplaces. The advice on crowded spaces is with crowded spaces with people that you don’t know. We on this side know each other,” he told the SNP’s Pete Wishart.

“Now, it may be that he doesn’t like mixing with his own side, wants to keep himself in his personal bubble. He may find the other members of the SNP – who I normally find extraordinarily charming…but we on this side have a more convivial fraternal spirit, and for our calling the guidance of her majesty’s government.”

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