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Nally evidence nears conclusion


Nally evidence nears conclusion

Padraig Burns

THE trial of the Cross farmer, Padraig Nally (62) for the manslaughter of John ‘Frog’ Ward at Funshinaugh, Cross on October 14, 2004 is nearing conclusion. Judge Kevin O’Higgins told the jury on Monday evening that they may be in a position to start considering their verdict this morning (Wednesday).
The case for the prosecution was expected to conclude yesterday morning (Tuesday) and defence counsel indicated to the judge that their evidence should also be finished by Tuesday evening. Mr Nally (right) has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Ward.
It is unclear at this juncture whether Padraig Nally will give evidence in the case. The trial, which is being held in the Central Criminal Court, Dublin, was adjourned early on Friday morning last after Mr Nally was admitted to St James Hospital, following complaints of chest pains on Thursday night. 
Doctors carried out a number of tests throughout the day and he was discharged from hospital at 5pm on Friday evening last. Mr Nally’s legal team confirmed to Judge O’Higgins on Monday morning that he was well enough to continue with the trial.
The court heard on Monday about John ‘Frog’ Ward’s previous convictions, which numbered 80 and were spread over 38 court appearances. All court appearances, bar two, were in district courts. Mr Ward served a number of prison sentences. At the time of his death he was awaiting trial arising out of an incident at Carrowbrowne Halting Site on April 15, 2004 when he was alleged to have produced a slash hook to gardaí.
The court also heard how there were four bench warrants issued for the arrest of Mr Ward that were not executed at the time of his death. It was explained by gardaí that the warrants were not executed because Mr Ward was receiving psychiatric treatment at the time.

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Padraig Nally pictured with his sister Maureen and supporters on the way to court this week
SHOULDER TO SHOULDER Padraig Nally pictured with his sister Maureen and supporters on the way to court this week.

“I pointed the gun in his direction and I hit him in the middle of the back. He fell … I knew he was dead”

Padraig Burns

at the central criminal court

PADRAIG Nally told an investigating garda that he was out of his mind with fear when he was having the struggle with John ‘Frog’ Ward at the back of his house on October 14, 2004. Mr Nally confessed to having had a premonition that something would happen the night before and of having spent hours sleeping alongside his gun in the shed for fear of being robbed and beaten up.
In his statement to Sergeant James Carroll, which was taken in the form of a series of question and answer sessions, Mr Nally also said that he had cried when his sister, Maureen, had returned to her home in Ballina the previous Sunday. “There’ll be changes here,” he said.
He told Sgt Carroll that when he heard the car revving outside the house he ‘doubted that it was them’.  “I mean the travellers. They called to me in the past and they raided me last February and took a brand new chainsaw,” he said.  He knew of other incidents around the area where people were broken into and he was very nervous living on his own. When Mr Nally went outside to see what was happening Tom Ward was in the car and he kept asking him to sell him his car. “He was pestering me and I said, sure isn’t it equal to you. I asked him where his mate was and he said he was gone in around the back for a look,” he said.
Padraig Nally went around the back and saw John Ward pushing in the back door.  “I hadn’t meant to kill him at the time,” he said. He was enraged and he meant to give him a beating and he said that he hammered the dust out of him. He said that he had had enough of them making a barn out of his house. “I was terrified, out of my mind with fear that the other fellow would come in. At the same time the car was being revved up at the front of the house,” Mr Nally said to Sgt Carroll. He went to his shed and put a live cartridge in his shotgun. He came back out and fired a shot that hit John Ward in the hand and hip. There was a struggle and both men grappled with each other. John Ward went to grab the gun and Mr Nally hit him with a stick that he had for mixing the dog food. Mr Nally said that John Ward attempted to kick him in the testicles.
He hit him on the head and the rest of his body. John Ward kept shouting ‘Tom, Tom, Tom’ and Mr Nally said that he was out of his mind with fear that the other fellow would come in. They continued to struggle and John Ward fell into a bed of nettles. “He ran out on to the road,” Mr Nally told Sgt Carroll, “and I said to myself that it would be the last time I’d be raided. I went to the shed and got three more cartridges and I closed the gun. I said to myself he wasn’t going. I was out of my mind with fear. I had slept about one hour the night before and I was thinking that this would happen. I was going to shoot him out . . . finish him  . . .  kill him. I couldn’t live with it anymore, the way they were treating me. I don’t think I was in my right mind.
“He was staggering out the gate and I saw him turning right for Cross. He was walking on and he didn’t look back. I pointed the gun in his direction and I hit him in the middle of the back. He fell on the right side of the road. I knew he was dead. There was no sign of him breathing and I heard a big sigh coming from his body like the air coming out,” Mr Nally told Sgt Carroll.
Garda Peadar Brick was on duty in Headford when Tom Ward pulled up in a car outside the station. He appeared very anxious and he ran in and told him that his father was shot down the road. Garda Brick followed him to Funshinagh in the patrol car. Tom Ward stopped his car a few hundred yards from the scene of the incident and he said he was afraid to go any further. He pointed up the road to where it had happened and at this stage Sgt James Carroll had arrived from Ballinrobe. Tom Ward was anxious to know how his father was. He was very agitated and after a few minutes Sgt Carrroll told him that his father had passed away. He was crying and he wanted to see his father but Garda Brick told him he couldn’t do so as the scene had to be preserved. Garda Brick contacted his colleagues in Galway and they informed the deceased man’s wife of what had happened.
Detective Garda Mick Conway spoke to Padraig Nally at the scene. He asked him was he alright and Mr Nally replied that he was ‘thinking of ending it altogether’. Padraig Nally told him what had happened. He said he had smelt a rat when he saw Tom Ward sitting in a car that was reversed into his drive. He asked him where his mate was and when he said that he had gone in the back he followed him and there was a struggle and he fired a shot at him from his shotgun. Det Gda Conway said Tom Ward was arrested in connection with an investigation into a burglary at the scene but no charges were brought.
Garda evidence was expected to conclude yesterday (Tuesday).
In his final question and answer statement with Sgt Carroll, Mr Nally said he was unsure if he had meant to fire the first shot. “I’m not sure if I aimed or not but the gun went off. It might have gone off by accident,” he said. Mr Nally described hitting Mr Ward with a stick as the two men fought as being like hitting a badger with a stone. He also said that it was like a scene from a movie and that he had gone ‘berserk entirely’ when he saw Mr Ward coming out of his house.
Sgt Carroll said that Mr Nally told him in the aftermath of the shooting that he was suicidal and that he had thought of shooting himself. Sgt Carroll, who was the principal investigating garda in the case, said in court that Mr Nally was extremely co-operative at all times during the investigation. He agreed with Mr Brendan Grehan, SC, when he suggested that Mr Nally was a pleasant man who had supplied an ‘ungarnished account’ of what had happened with no attempt to put a different light on it.
Garda Con Nolan told the court that in a follow-up search of Mr Nally’s home 26 cartridges were located. Five notes containing car registration numbers were also discovered. During house to house inquiries in the area, Garda Nolan said it appeared that a number of people were in the habit of keeping registration numbers of strange cars in the area and people had expressed concerns to him about different things that had happened. Sixteen incidents were reported over a 12-month period to gardai of which three referred to crime issues and 13 involved sightings of cars within a one-mile radius of where the incident occurred.

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Son recalls moments leading to father’s death

Padraig Burns

At the central criminal court

TOM Ward was born on September 20, 1986 and is the fourth eldest in a family of eleven children. At the time of his father’s death, he was living in Carrowbrowne Halting Site, Galway. He left school after sixth class, unable to read or write. He was born in London and has lived in Dundalk, Donegal and Galway. He is currently serving an eleven-month prison sentence for offences committed under the Criminal Justice Theft and Fraud Act. His evidence in court last Wednesday lasted nearly three hours.
On two occasions during his evidence he appeared to lose control. When counsel for Padraig  Nally, Mr Brendan Grehan SC, asked him what he and his father were talking about as they drove towards Funshinagh, Tom Ward snapped. “My father was murdered and there’s a man walking free. He [Nally] has f****d up all our lives and we’re left without a father,” he said. Later on, when Mr Grehan was asking Mr Ward why he had reversed his car into Padraig Nally’s yard, instead of parking it outside and just walking in, he accused Mr Grehan of trying to get Mr Nally ‘off scot free’. “My father was killed and we’re left without him. I have a five-year-old brother who asks every day where is his Daddy. He [Padraig Nally] shot him, beat him up and followed him out on to the road and shot him again and all you’re doing is trying to get him off,” he said.
During his evidence Tom Ward complained at regular intervals of suffering from memory loss. He talked of trying to kill himself when he attempted to drive a car into a river and of other attempts at inflicting harm on himself.
When Mr Grehan introduced evidence of his father’s criminal record, Tom Ward said he was aware that he was in prison but not 100% sure what for. Mr Grehan said John Ward had 80 convictions and 36 court appearances. He had a propensity to violence. Tom Ward said those things were never discussed. He knew nothing about any incident when his father was alleged to have threatened gardaí with a slash-hook. “He wasn’t violent to any of his children,” he said.
He said that on the day in question he went for a spin with his father. It was not unusual for them to do so and they usually went at around 2pm.
He said that both he and his father used to buy old cars and do them up for resale. That was what they were doing on the day that John Ward died, he said. Tom Ward said he had never been on the road that ran alongside Padraig Nally’s home until October 14, 2004.
Before they arrived at Mr Nally’s yard they had stopped at John Murphy’s house. He said they were looking at an ‘old BMW’ there that they were interested in buying.
When they arrived at Padraig Nally’s house his father said that there was a car parked outside that might be for sale. He reversed the car into the yard and kept the car engine running while his father went around the back of the house to see was there anyone at home.
Padraig Nally came out of his house and he asked Tom Ward who had gone in the back. “When I told him that my father had gone in the back he said ‘he won’t be coming back out’ and he walked in around the back of the house. I saw him go to the shed and take out a gun. I did not see him shoot it but I heard the shot and I panicked and drove out of the yard and up the road towards the lake. I turned and drove back down looking for my father but couldn’t see him. I turned again and drove off and came back again. I called out for my father but there was no reply. I knew there was something wrong at that stage.  I drove off again and I looked in my mirror and I could see Padraig Nally in the middle of the road. He looked up and down the road and ran back into his yard,’’ said Tom Ward.
After that Tom Ward drove to the Headford Garda Station and reported the incident. He returned to the scene with the Gardaí and the body of his dead father was discovered. Last week, when concluding his evidence, Tom Ward, said that all he and his family wanted was a ‘fair trial’.

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Prof Cassidy details cause of death


STATE Pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy (right), confirmed that John ‘Frog’ Ward died from blood loss as a result of a bullet that entered his body through his arm and ended up in his heart. It was the second shot fired from his shotgun by Padraig Nally on the road outside the house. She said the shot was from close range and the trajectory of the shot suggested that the gunman had stood above Mr Ward. Prof Cassidy said that the blunt force trauma to his head, which was caused by the numerous blows he received, was also a factor but the primary cause of death was the shotgun wound to the heart which caused loss of blood.
Her examination of Mr Ward’s body discovered a number of injuries. He had numerous lacerations to his head and the rest of his body. There were eight full thickness lacerations to the scalp and Mr Ward also had bruises and lacerations to his face and around his eyes and ears. On the left side of his Adam’s Apple there was an imprint of a circular outline which gave an appearance of something circular being pushed inwards. His two hands were bruised and there were grazes on his knuckles. Two bones were broken on his left forearm close to the wrist which were consistent with someone attempting to defend themselves from blows.
Prof Cassidy agreed with Brendan Grehan SC, for the defence, when he suggested that, while the injuries received by Mr Ward apart from the second shot were painful, they would not have prevented him from moving around. She said medical treatment would have healed the wounds though there would have been scarring. She said it was possible that the reason it appeared the gunman was above Mr Ward when the second shot was fired was that his mobility had been affected by the first shot to his hip and that he was stooped down when on the road outside the house.

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Nally was ‘demented with fear’

Padraig burns

At the central criminal court

MICK Varley is Padraig Nally’s closest neighbour. He recalled last week seeing a car parked in his neighbour’s yard on October 14 and he presumed that Padraig Nally was selling a sheep or a ram. Mr Varley noticed a car driving by his house and turning at his yard at high speed. The car returned in the direction of Padraig Nally’s house. Shortly after, Padraig Nally arrived at Mick Varley’s house and told him that he was ‘in bother’. “He said to me that ‘they came again and I shot one of them and the other one fled’. He asked me to ring the Gardaí and I dialled Claremorris and he spoke to them,” said Mr Varley. He said Mr Nally was calm but appeared to be in shock.
About ten minutes later Mick Varley went back to Padraig Nally’s yard. “I didn’t ask him any questions about what had happened but he told me that there had been a scuffle at the back door. He said that John Ward had tried to kick him in the goolies and he had to fight for his life. He said he had been having his tea and listening to the radio when he heard the car outside. He went outside and a man said that he wanted to buy his car. He kept asking him,” he said.
Mr Varley said that he saw the body of John Ward inside the wall and he knew that he was dead. He also said that in 2003 a chainsaw had been stolen from his property. He had not reported it to the Gardaí.
Mick Varley told the court that he had lived alongside Padraig Nally all his life. He was a great neighbour who would drop everything to help his neighbours. He was never a violent man and had never raised his hands to anyone. He said that Padraig Nally had no telephone in his house and no mobile phone. In reply to Michael Bowman, BL, for the defence, he said the way of life in the countryside had changed in recent years and not as many people were farming full-time. He said homes tended to be vacant during the day-time hours.
He said that Padraig Nally had a habit of going to marts during the week, often as many as three times. Mr Varley had noticed that before the incident Padraig Nally had stopped going to marts as regularly and he appeared to be getting very nervous. He recalled on one occasion talking to Mr Nally and him saying that ‘two of them’ had called to his yard earlier that day. “In his head, I think he was demented with fear,” said  Mr Varley. He said that such fear was not uncommon in the rural areas. “I know of one man who sleeps with the lights on all night and there are others who are living in fear in the country but they won’t talk about it. Two brothers were killed in the Hollymount area when they were knifed in their own house and I think Padraig Nally was afraid that would happen to him,” he said.
In reply to John Jordan BL, for the prosecution, Mr Varley said that when Padraig Nally called over to his house after the incident he noticed bits of blood on his hands. “He told me that John Ward caught him by the throat and he was trying to get him by the testicles. Padraig believed that if he had caught him there he’d have been done for,” he said.
On Monday, another neighbour, John Murphy told the court that he had seen the deceased man heading in the door of a shed beside his mother’s house on the day of the shooting. Mr Murphy, who told the court that his mother lived alone, said he worked as a stone mason and was in a field at the rear of his mother’s house when he heard a car making noise on the road. The car was driven into the yard and it pulled up by a shed.
“I saw a man get out and he was heading in the door of the shed. I thought to myself that I’d better stop him and I let out a shout. I knew he was a member of the travelling community to look at and when he saw me he stopped going into the shed. He started talking to me about stone and he wondered if I could do anything to repair a statue in a graveyard in Tuam. He told me he lived in Tuam and he gave me a mobile number,” said  Mr Murphy.
Mr Murphy said he ‘wasn’t too impressed with him’ and, as he left, he wrote down the number of the car. “I was suspicious of them because they had no business going into my mother’s shed. He was up to no good,” he said. Mr Murphy decided to follow the car and he rang his brother to tell him to keep an eye out.