A not guilty verdict has been delivered in the case against a 49–year-old man accused of the manslaughter of a 40-year-old man when they were attending a homeless charity called the street café in Cork city centre in September 2019.
A jury of four women and eight men took little more than one hour to deliver their unanimous verdict in the case.
Adrian Henry of Seminary Road, Blackpool, Cork, denied the charge of committing the manslaughter of James Duncan, 40, at St. Patrick’s Street in Cork on September 12, 2019, at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
The late James Duncan was from Dunmore Gardens, Knocknaheeny in Cork. Members of his family attended Courtroom 4 where the trial commenced on Monday of last week. They sat quietly at the back of the court again today as the unanimous not guilty verdict was delivered.
Judge Helen Boyle said to the jury: “I thank you very much for the diligence with which you have performed your duty.” The judge’s last interaction with the jury today was a further clarification of the legal definition of manslaughter.
The judge explained that to bring back a verdict of guilty they would have to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt on three distinct elements of the offence: firstly, that an assault was committed by the defendant on Mr Duncan; secondly, that this caused the death of the deceased; and thirdly, that the assault was done with the intention of causing some physical injury that was not merely of a trivial or negligible character, but not necessarily a serious injury.
Unlike deliberating on a murder trial where a jury may deliver a verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter, there was no such alternative available to the jury deliberating on this manslaughter trial. Judge Boyle told them they had only two verdicts available to them, namely guilty or not guilty of manslaughter.
Voice of the deceased
Unusually, in a trial of its kind the jury heard the voice of the deceased as part of the evidence. The 999 call from the late James Duncan, made at 9.15pm on September 12, 2019, was played to the jury: “I am outside the Modern. Just outside Ulster Bank, close to the Modern… in Cork city. I am after being attacked. (Asked who attacked him) A fella. He is still here. He beat the f*** out of me. I need help.”
He gave his name as James Duncan and said: “No I don’t need an ambulance but I need help… Thank you. Thank you.” Defence senior counsel, Tom Creed, said the deceased had what he categorised as “almost time-bomb vulnerabilities.” He reminded the jury of the “extraordinary situation that someone without a mark on him” died as a result of whatever happened to him.
“The prosecution – in the guise of inference – is asking you to speculate. They are asking you to infer or speculate that he banged his head in the first incident… But I say the prosecution did not prove a particular head strike.
“It would be speculation to say he struck his head the first time (when pushed to the ground) rather than