Forkhill man accused of Dundalk taxi driver murder claims he acted to ‘protect himself’

October 8, 2018

The trial has begun of a Forkhill man charged with the murder of taxi driver Martin Mulligan in Dundalk three years ago.  24 year old Joseph Hillen from Glendesha Road, Forkhill denies murdering the 53 year old father-of-two, who was stabbed to death in the early hours of September 28th 2015.

As proceedings got under way on Tuesday last, the court heard that the accused told gardai that the cabbie pulled a knife on him and that, while he accepts that he inflicted the fatal knife wounds, Mr Hillen told gardai he did it to protect himself.

In his opening statement to the jury, prosecuting counsel Patrick Treacy revealed that, having initially denied ever having met Mr Mulligan, the Forkhill man made additional statements to gardai in July this year claiming that the two men fought on the road after he thought he had come across Mr Mulligan illegally dumping.

Hillen said a friend who was in the car with him had driven Mr Mulligan’s car into a gateway and thrown the keys over a gate.  He alleged that the cabbie then got into his Toyota Avensis but his friend had run to the car, leaned in the passenger side and struck Mr Mulligan on the head and shoulders with a sewer rod.

In his statements Hillen claimed Mr Mulligan then came at him with a kitchen knife which he managed to take from him and jabbed him twice with it. 

Hillen claims that when he heard days later that Mr Mulligan had died he and a friend threw the knife into Victoria Lough.

The taxi driver, who was married died from two stab wounds which severed arteries, one of which would have killed him in 30 seconds, the court heard. 

The jury was told that Mr Hillen’s DNA was found at the scene of Mr Mulligan’s death from blood on the road, on the deceased man’s jumper and on a glove found on the road nearby.

The court also heard how Mr Hillen had come to the attention of gardaí earlier that night while “tyre spinning” in a Toyota Avensis in Dundalk town but managed to get away during a car chase. 

Defence counsel Brendan Grehan said it was accepted that Joseph Hillen had caused the knife wounds but the issue for the jury would be his intent.

The deceased’s widow, appearing in court on Thursday, denied that her husband kept a kitchen knife in his car. Grainne Mulligan told prosecuting counsel Patrick Treacy SC that her husband was concerned for his own safety and kept a bar on the floor of the taxi for protection, as well as a small Swiss Army knife in the car.

She agreed with defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, under cross examination, that her husband was a “formidable” man who would not back down in any situation.  Mrs Mulligan accepted that she had made an additional statement in August of this year saying she had mistakenly told gardai that her husband – who also worked as a coal delivery driver – kept a small kitchen knife in his taxi which he used for picking his teeth, when he in fact kept the kitchen knife in his coal lorry, not the taxi.

The widow denied having changed her statement because she realised it would be helpful to the accused man as it supported his claim that it was Mr Mulligan who produced the knife.

Under re-examination she told Mr Treacy that the knife her husband kept was a short knife she had previously used for peeling potatoes. She said it would have been about the length of one third of an A4 page.

The trial continues.