A UK man who admits killing Irish boxing champion Kevin Sheehy with his jeep told gardai that he was not under threat when he pulled out in the vehicle and "was angry and drinking" at the time, a murder trial has heard.
Logan Jackson (31), of Longford Road, Coventry, England has pleaded not (NOT) guilty to murder but guilty to Mr Sheehy's (20) manslaughter at Hyde Road in Limerick city on July 1, 2019.
Mr Sheehy, a five times Irish boxing champion, was repeatedly run over by a Mitsubishi Shogun jeep and died as a result of multiple injuries, including a "catastrophic skull fracture". His body was found lying on the road at about 4.40am after attending a house party to celebrate the Munster hurling final match.
The trial has previously heard from Mr Sheehy's cousin who said that after the party, he tried to grab on to the 20-year-old before he was struck and "taken away" from him by the speeding jeep.
The court also heard that at around 4.40am on the night Thomas Lysaght tried to pull Mr Sheehy off the ground but the vehicle "spun around" and came back towards them for a second time.
"I had to let Kevin go and move away. He was dragged up the road," Mr Lysaght told the trial.
The witness described how he then tried to divert the driver's attention away from his cousin but that the jeep "went over" the talented athlete a third time before fleeing the scene.
Giving evidence today, Detective Garda Pat Whelan told prosecution counsel Dean Kelly SC that Mr Jackson presented himself at Tullamore Garda Station on the evening of July 1, 2019, where he was arrested on suspicion of murder. Mr Jackson told gardai that he was involved in a hit and run in Limerick and had been driving the car. The accused was subsequently transferred to Roxboro Garda Station in Limerick, where he was interviewed on several occasions.
In his first interview with gardai on July 1, Mr Jackson said he was at a house party three doors down from his cousin's house on Hyde Road and when he came outside "three big fellas" started threatening him. "One of them boxed my cousin, I was scared...... I have one leg, I'm vulnerable," he added.
The accused told detectives that they were all around his jeep - a black Mitsubishi Shogun - and had attacked it but he managed to get away. "One of them had a belt and he was hitting my car. I never meant any of it to happen. Obviously someone got hurt. I didn't want anyone to get hurt," he explained.
When asked how Mr Sheehy died, the accused said he did not know and could not remember. "I didn't mean for this to happen, I'm sorry. It was not my intention for this to happen," he continued.
Referring to the night of the incident, Mr Jackson said he had "handed" himself in to Tullamore Garda Station as he had done "something wrong" and had to "face up to it". Describing the incident to gardai, the accused said he did not know how many people he had hit that night. "I put my foot down. I didn't look and just got out of the way of the situation," he said.
The accused told gardai that he had come to Limerick three weeks previously to visit family. At one stage, Mr Jackson said that Mr Sheehy had died by "getting in the way" of his car.
In his second interview on July 2, the accused said he bought the jeep from his brother and it cost €1,000. "It's a 2002 automatic car, it's petrol," he added.
When gardai put it to him that he had not told them everything, Mr Jackson said: "That's your thinking. People were trying to kill me mate. I was trying to get out of there."
He continued: "They started saying they would knock both of us out. He whacked my cousin. I had to drag him [the cousin] off the floor and put him into the car".
When asked by detectives if he had driven back again on the inside road, Mr Jackson denied he had. Gardai put it to the accused that this was not the truth. The accused said it was.
Explaining the events of July 1, Mr Jackson said that after he left Hyde Road for the first time he had "spun around" and driven back. "They all came out in front of the car, that's how he got hit. I had no intention of hurting anyone," he added.
The defendant said he had closed his eyes and drove. "One was hitting the car with a belt, the other was throwing stones. I just wanted to get out of there and drive," he said.
"I turned around and came back down the road again. They were still trying to hit my car and I drove on. It all happened fast. They hit my cousin, me and my car," he said.
He insisted to gardai that he was provoked as they had "whacked" his cousin. When asked if he had hit Mr Sheehy a second time when he travelled back again on the inside road, he replied: "I must have hit him yeah. I just wanted to get out of the situation".
Gardai put it to him that he had described two occasions where he had driven on the inside road and when people were on the road. "I don't know if I hit people both times," he replied. When asked if he had come back to Hyde Road and passed a third time, he said: "No, only twice". He added: "A third time, whoever is telling you that is bullshitting. I mean that from the bottom of my heart."
He told detectives that he could not remember driving on the footpath and could not recall how fast he was going.
When it was put to him that a witness said that "no digs" were thrown by the boys outside the party, Mr Jackson disagreed and said there were.
Gardai said a witness had told them that he had driven over Mr Sheehy when he passed in his vehicle for the second time. "No, I didn't," he said.
"Did you go down a third time and drive over Kevin?" asked the gardai. Mr Jackson denied this. When asked what was his "real intention" when he drove back a second time. The accused said it was to "park up".
"And the third time?", asked the officers. "There was no third time," he said.
In his third interview, Mr Jackson insisted that he did not remember driving past a third time and it had all been an accident.
In his next interview, the accused said he "drove back three times" because he was provoked and intimidated. "I didn't mean for it to happen but it did. It was my stupid mistake. I'm sorry for his family," he said.
When asked if he accepted that he had driven his vehicle at several people, he said: "I didn't mean to kill anyone. I'd be drinking for two to three days......I have to live with this for the rest of my life." Mr Jackson said he did not remember how many people he had hit with his jeep or how many times. He later accepted that he was responsible for the death of Mr Sheehy. The court heard that the jeep was recovered on the north-side of Limerick city. He told gardai that he "did not mean to do it".
"Did you not mean to do it the first time, the second time or the third time?" asked the gardai. "I didn't mean to hit anyone a third time,' he said.
"I'm sorry for my actions. I'm sorry to his family," he said.
In his fifth and final interview, gardai told Mr Jackson that there was no one around his jeep when he pulled it out from Hyde Road the first time. "I'd been threatened before that," he said.
The accused said he had spilt a drink on his Coventry top so he had taken it off. "It didn't need to happen and escalate from a stupid little argument and everyone drinking," he said.
When asked if it was accurate to say there was no threat at the time he pulled out his jeep, Mr Jackson said: "Yes. I was angry and drinking. I don't know why I done it [sic]". The accused was later charged with the murder of Mr Sheehy.
Under cross-examination, Det Gda Whelan told Michael Bowman SC, defending Mr Jackson, that his client had mentioned "intimidation" quite a bit in his interviews but officers did not really accept what he was saying. "There was a certain variance between what was on camera and what Mr Jackson was telling us," he said.
Det Gda Whelan also agreed with Mr Bowman that Mr Sheehy had attained "very considerable success" in boxing and had been "decorated" at least five times as Irish national champion. "He was a fine young man," added the witness.
Mr Sheehy, the barrister said, was the type of young man that "anyone would be proud to call their son", which the garda agreed with.
Forensic scientist Alan McGee said he carried out a blood-stain pattern analysis on a large black Mitsubishi Shogun. There was extensive impact blood splatter associated with transfer staining on the grill, he said, and it extended onto the front section of the bonnet.
Mr McGee said a DNA profile from the front grill had matched a DNA profile belonging to Mr Sheehy. The witness found that the front right grill area of the jeep had struck Mr Sheehy when he was bleeding.
The major DNA profile on the steering wheel matched the accused's profile.
A blood pattern analysis and DNA profile of the bumper trim indicated that it had also struck Mr Sheehy when he was bleeding, said the witness.
Mr Jackson also denies intentionally or recklessly engaging in conduct which created a substantial risk of death or serious harm to others to wit; driving a Mitsubishi jeep vehicle dangerously at high speed in the direction of pedestrians on the same occasion.
The charge of endangerment is contrary to Section 13 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.
The jury have been told that Mr Jackson is a native of Coventry in the UK and has "some family connections" in Limerick.
In his opening address, prosecution counsel Mr Kelly told the jury that Mr Jackson "thundered" a jeep into the 20-year-old before driving over him again at speed.
The trial has also heard that Mr Sheehy and Mr Jackson had "an exchange" moments after leaving a house party where they had gone to celebrate Limerick’s Munster hurling final victory over Tipperary in 2019. The court was told that "some exception was taken by something that was said or words spoken".
The trial continues tomorrow before Ms Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of five men and six women, when it is expected that closing speeches will be heard.
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