A banjo player described as a “gentleman who wouldn’t hurt a fly” was found dead at his ransacked home with a knife on his chest and stab wounds to his neck, a murder trial heard today.
One garda said the position of the body looked “staged” and there was evidence of heroin use close to where the body was found.
30-year-old Keith Brady of Cartron Estate, Sligo has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Martin ‘Matt’ Kivlehan (aged 59) at New Apartments, Holborn St, Sligo on August 2/3 2015. The plea was not accepted and he is on trial at the Central Criminal Court (pictured).
Rebecca Cawley told Ms Dara Foynes BL for the prosecution that she worked at the Mace shop on Holborn Street and knew the deceased well through her father.
Mr Kivlehan was a regular in the shop but on that Sunday August 2, he was “more unkempt looking than usual”. He was wearing a black t-shirt, pull-up tracksuit bottoms and slippers.
He asked her if there was any alcohol on offer and she pointed out that the two-litre bottles of Linden Village cider were on sale for €2.99. He bought two of them using a collection of coins. He couldn’t carry the bottles on his own so another lady, Catherine Rooney, carried the bottles for him.
Ms Cawley told Brendan Grehan SC defending, that the deceased was a “lovely man”. She agreed that he had a “fondness for alcohol” and on the day she noticed that he was more drunk than usual.
Catherine Rooney said that she brought the bottles up to the deceased’s nearby home, which she described as tidy. Her aunt Kay Ennis was there and she had a cup of tea with both of them before leaving. She said it was obvious that Mr Kivlehan had drink on him and added: “That is the way he always was.”
Paul Murray SC read the evidence of Kay Ennis, who said that she had been a partner and friend of Martin Kivlehan for many years. On that Sunday when she called to him he was sipping a can of cider and was “in good form”. His home was tidy and she lent him €5 to buy a few cans. When she left she insisted that he lock his door.
She said Mr Kivlehan had a few friends who would call from time to time to drink. She remembered that one Saturday about one month previously she saw Janice Brady and another man in Mr Kivlehan’s home. The court has previously heard that Janice Brady is the accused man’s sister.
Samantha O’Hanlon told the trial that she saw the deceased on the evening of Sunday August 2 in Mace. He was trying to buy a naggin of vodka but the person at the till couldn’t sell it to him because he only had foreign currency. She said that she spoke to Mr Kivlehan for about two minutes before he left on his own.
She said she knew him well and described him as a “gentleman, a man who wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Mr Murray also read the statement of Dawn Smith who lived at nearby St Edward’s Terrace and said she heard a man and woman arguing for about 30 minutes from 2am on the night Mr Kivlehan died. She said the voices were coming from the direction of Holborn Street.
Dermot Conlon was one of Mr Kivlehan’s closest friends, having known him for 30 years. He told the trial that they had another close friend named Maurice Wynne and they would regularly gather at Mr Kivlehan’s home.
On the Bank Holiday Monday morning of August 3 he went to Mr Kivlehan’s home and was surprised to find that the door was unlocked. He went inside and found his friend on the floor.
Thinking he had fallen, Mr Conlon went to Mr Wynne’s home to get help. Mr Wynne told the court that when he arrived at about 12.30pm he knew Mr Kivlehan was dead. He could see a knife close to his throat and told gardaí that Mr Conlon’s eyesight is so bad he hadn’t been able to see it.
Mr Wynne also remembered seeing Janice Brady in Mr Kivlehan’s home a few weeks earlier. He said he didn’t like Janice Brady and didn’t stay on that occasion because “she is bad news”.
Christopher Kivlehan said he had been “very close” with his brother, Martin.
Martin taught him to play music and would light up whenever a conversation about music started. The witness agreed that his brother was a drinker and was in poor health. He had been hospitalised 14 times in the two years prior to his death, often for drink-related illnesses. He noted his drinking had become worse since the death of their mother and that he would often cry when they talked about her.
At 1.13pm on Monday August 3, 2015 he received a phone call from Dermot Conlon who seemed confused and told him: “I think he is dead. I’m not sure. Can you come.”
When he arrived at Holborn Street he could immediately see his brother was dead with blood on his nostrils, a knife on his chest and a duvet covering the lower part of his body. He was suspicious when he saw a stereo on the ground, presses open and things in disarray. Tablets were scattered on the bed and black plastic bags of empty cans in full view.
Concluding his evidence, he said his brother was inoffensive, jolly and witty. He added: “Everyone loved him.”
Garda David Hannon responded to a 999 call to go to Mr Kivlehan’s house and when he got there he found the deceased lying on the floor. He said there was burnt tinfoil on a coffee table, evidence that people had been using heroin. In the bedroom he saw tablets scattered on the bed and every drawer and press had been opened. There were also bags of empty cans. The deceased was lying in the front room with his right arm across his chest and under his hand was a knife with a serrated edge pointing towards his neck. He could see a wound to Mr Kivlehan’s throat.
Sergeant Ciaran Diffily told Mr Grehan he thought the position of the body looked as though it was “staged” and Garda David McDonagh said the sitting room appeared to have been “ransacked”.
The trial continues tomorrow in front of Justice Paul McDermott and a jury of seven women and five men.