Manslaughter conviction in taxi driver murder case

October 15, 2018

A Forkhill man has been convicted of the manslaughter of a taxi driver who died from stab wounds sustained in an alleged row over illegal dumping.

Joseph Hillen (24) of Glendesha Road was found not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of 53-year-old Martin Mulligan from Dundalk.  The jury of nine men and three women took five hours and 29 minutes before reaching the verdict.

Mr Mulligan’s body was discovered at Carnmore, just off the Armagh Road, in the early hours of September 28th 2015, just hours after his last drop-off of the night.

During the subsequent murder investigation, Hillen came under suspicion because he had been chased by Gardai from Dundalk just hours before Mr Mulligan’s death.  He evaded the patrol car by speeding towards the border.

Forensic analysis of blood on the road near the deceased’s body and DNA found on the his jumper confirmed that Hillen was present when the stabbing happened.  A green and yellow work glove with Hillen’s DNA was also found nearby.

When first questioned by gardaí in 2015 and then following his arrest in 2016, Hillen said he never met Martin Mulligan and didn’t know what happened.  However, earlier this year, he gave a voluntary statement to gardaí in which he admitted to the stabbing, but said he did it in self-defence.  He told gardaí that he was driving by land belonging to his friend when he saw Mr Mulligan and, believing he was illegally dumping rubbish, he confronted him and a fight ensued.  

Hillen said the taxi driver pulled a long, stainless steel, kitchen knife on him but Hillen “flipped the knife” before Mulligan started to punch him repeatedly on the back of the head, pushing him down to his knees.  From this position he said he “jabbed out” twice with the knife, inflicting the fatal wounds.

Acting State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis confirmed this description would explain the “unusual” position of the wounds in the lower abdomen and thigh.

Hillen’s defense barrister Brendan Grehan said the evidence showed that the deceased pulled the knife and that his client was acting in self-defence.

Justice Eileen Creedon told the jury that they should find the accused guilty of manslaughter if they thought it reasonably possible that the accused believed he was acting in self-defence but used excessive force.  She adjourned sentencing until  December 3rd.