A man has been found not guilty of slitting the throat of an acquaintance as the victim was sitting in a parked car with his girlfriend.
Mark Morgan (49) of Ferrycarrig Drive, Coolock, Dublin stood trial in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court this week where he pleaded not guilty to one count of assault causing harm to Dean Purdue at Belcamp Lane, Priorswood, on January 20, 2017.
The court heard the alleged assault occurred outside Mr Purdue’s family home, where he lived with his parents and siblings. Mr Purdue was aged 22 at the time.
The prosecution case was that Mr Purdue was attacked by Mr Morgan, who slit his throat with an unknown weapon, leaving a four-centimetre jagged laceration.
After two hours and 10 minutes of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty today, September 23.
Judge Pauline Codd thanked the jury for doing their duty during this difficult time.
During the two-day trial this week, Mr Purdue took the stand and told the jury that on the day in question, he was sitting in the passenger seat of his then girlfriend’s parked car outside his house.
The couple were having a cigarette with the window open and watching a video on YouTube, Mr Purdue said.
“Out of nowhere, I felt a nudge on my shoulder and then an instant coldness and then instant heat running through my neck,” Mr Purdue told the court.
He said he then noticed “a fella” running off, before the man stopped and started “shouting frantically” at him. Mr Purdue’s sister then came out of his home and the man ran off, the court heard.
When asked if he knew who his attacker was, Mr Purdue replied: “Someone I’ve known my whole life,” before pointing out Mr Morgan in court. He said he used to be friends with Mr Morgan’s nephew.
Mr Purdue said he did not see what was used to cut his neck. “I’d say it was a knife, but I don’t know.”
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The court heard Mr Purdue was taken to hospital and underwent surgery. Mr Purdue described how blood spurted everywhere when he removed his hand from his neck and three paramedics worked on it to stop the bleeding.
The court heard Mr Purdue initially did not want to speak to investigating gardaí who came to the house and followed him to hospital.
“In my area, it’s not a very good thing to talk to guards,” Mr Purdue said, adding he could be branded a “rat”. But he said he changed his mind a few hours later and decided to talk to gardaí after the doctors told him how lucky he was.
Mr Purdue demonstrated to the jury exactly where he was cut, gesturing across his neck, directly under his chin.
Under cross-examination from defence barrister Kevin White BL, Mr Purdue denied he might have mistaken Mr Morgan’s identity on the night. He said he did not have any enemies in the Coolock area and had no reason to fear for his safety.
Mr Morgan was arrested 10 days later and denied carrying out the attack. He said he did not know Mr Purdue personally, but knew him by name.
He declined to tell gardaí where he was at the time of the attack, saying he didn’t have to tell them that.
“Dean Purdue’s throat was cut when he wasn’t expecting it, that’s a horrible thing to happen,” the arresting garda put to him in interview, the trial heard.
“I agree with you, it’s a horrible thing to do,” Mr Morgan replied. “But I didn’t do it.”
In her closing speech to the jury, prosecution barrister, Maddie Grant BL said: “The essential question in this case comes down to the recognition and identification by Dean Purdue of Mark Morgan as the perpetrator of the assault against him.”
She submitted Mr Purdue was a “compelling witness” who was very honest. She submitted he knew Mr Morgan when he saw him and recognised his voice.
In his closing speech, Mr White said there were “a number of concerning aspects” to the identification by Mr Purdue. He said people make mistakes when it comes to identification, even in cases involving family and friends.
He noted there were no independent witnesses, no CCTV footage of the assault and no forensic evidence.
Mr Purdue handed in his clothes to gardaí the following day, but they had been washed, the trial heard. The car he was sitting in was examined by gardaí but nothing of evidential value was found.