A boxer accused of murdering his former partner Nadine Lott told gardaí he was “pounding” her and “punching like mad” and that if he had wanted to kill her he would have, his trial has heard.
When asked by gardaí how his hands were not badly damaged, Daniel Murtagh said he had “boxed for years and my knuckles are conditioned”. “I knew she was with a lad in Arklow and I was just trying to get it out of her,” he added.
Mr Murtagh also told officers: “You’re trying to paint a picture of me trying to kill Nadine; if I wanted to kill her I’d kill her.”
The jurors spent Wednesday listening to the third and fourth garda interviews in the trial of Mr Murtagh, who is charged with murdering his 30-year-old ex-partner Ms Lott on December 17th, 2019,
Mr Murtagh (34), of Melrose Grove, Bawnogue, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Ms Lott at her apartment in St Mary’s Court, Arklow, Co Wicklow. His plea was not accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and he is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.
The jury heard Ms Lott suffered “severe blunt force trauma” and stab injuries at the hands of her former partner “in a sustained and violent attack” in her home. They heard 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.
An intensive care nurse at the hospital told the jury Ms Lott was “completely unrecognisable” and that she had never seen anybody so badly injured. A paramedic who attended to Ms Lott at her home told the jury that the call will “haunt” him for the rest of his career and was one of the most “horrendous scenes” he had ever walked into.
The garda who telephoned ambulance control informed them that Ms Lott had been “beaten to a pulp”.
In his third interview with gardaí on December 15th, Mr Murtagh was shown a photograph of his Volvo car following a traffic collision he had in Laragh the previous morning at 7.30am, several hours after assaulting Nadine. Mr Murtagh said he “did not have a notion” how he got there.
Evidence has previously been given that Mr Murtagh told a motorist that he had “killed my wife because she was with my friend”, just hours after he assaulted her.
When asked about these comments, Mr Murtagh said: “I don’t know, there is no friend”. Moments later he told gardaí that anytime they would break up, Nadine would “run” to this other named man, who he said she went out with for years.
When asked about an “object” on the floor of Nadine’s sitting room, Mr Murtagh said it was a butter knife, which he had used to cut up a burger and a battered sausage that evening.
He denied hitting Nadine with a “big stand up mirror” in the sitting room. The intensive care nurse previously told the jury that there were a lot of shards of reflective glass in the deceased’s hair and her nose was continuously bleeding.
When gardaí put it to Mr Murtagh that something must have “went on” in the kitchen, the accused insisted that the altercation took place in the sitting room and said he could not tell them any more.
Forensic scientist Dr Stephen Clifford previously told the murder trial that the amount of blood splatter found in the kitchen of Nadine’s apartment suggested there had been a “sustained assault” on her when she was lying on the floor there.
‘Bit of a frenzy’
Mr Murtagh said he was in “a bit of a frenzy” that night and had hit Nadine with both hands. He said he could have hit her about eight times and might have hit her in the body. He again remarked that Ms Lott was alive and “well conscious” when he left the apartment.
In his fourth and final interview on December 16th, Mr Murtagh said he was a “million per cent sure” Nadine was wearing clothes during the incident and was “not nude or anything”.
He repeated that he was lying on the sofa and woke up when he heard her shouting and screaming. “I gave her a slap and she went back and onto the ground beside the cabinet,” he indicated. He said the assault lasted for between three and four minutes and Nadine was talking when he left the apartment.
When gardaí suggested to the accused that Nadine’s injuries were “not just” from punches, he said: “I’m telling you straight I hit her with my hands. I hit her with my hands is all. I shouldn’t have hit her that hard, I was punching like mad. It was just my hands, I’m sorry.”
He continued: “It is just my hand guard, just my hand, nothing more I can say to you.”
Addressing gardaí he said: “Is the torture over now, there’s the story, I hit my girlfriend too hard, just in the sitting room, that’s all I have to say.”
He said he had just hit Nadine with his hand and if he had really wanted to kill her “let’s be fair I’d go to kill her”. He also said if he had wanted to kill Nadine, he could have. “I just intended to give her a few slaps. I’m telling you I didn’t stab her,” he continued.
“You’re trying to paint a picture of me trying to kill Nadine; if I wanted to kill her I’d kill her. I didn’t even want to inflict that pain on her with my hands” he told gardaí.
When asked why he had inflicted “so much pain” on a small girl like Nadine, he said he was in a rage and a part of him thought she was down the town with another man. “I just went too hard with my hands, that’s it,” he said.
Gardai suggested to the accused that he was an angry person and he denied this, adding that he was a “loving person”.
Asked how lifeless Nadine was when he left, he said she “wasn’t near gone or anything. I didn’t think she was critical.”
He later said he had part of a wire from a charger wrapped around his hand and had hit Nadine with it. “It was long and getting in the way when I was hitting her, I stood on it and broke it and wrapped the rest of it around my hand,” he remarked.
At the outset of the trial, defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC 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”.
The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Michael MacGrath and a jury of seven men and five women