Daniel Carroll given life sentence for murder of Brian Phelan
A kidnapper turned knife killer was handed a life sentence today (Wednesday) after a jury convicted him of murder.
The Newry Crown Court jury of six men and five women deliberated for an hour and 15 minutes before returning a unanimous guilty verdict that 30-year-old Daniel Carroll had murdered Brian Phelan on 26 July, 2018.
Amanda O’Riordan, the mother of Mr Phelan’s two children, stepped forward towards the dock from the public gallery shouting at Carroll and as she was escorted from the courtroom by uniformed officers, shouting and cheering could be heard coming from the public foyer just outside.
Addressing the defendant directly, Judge Gordon Kerr QC told him: “Daniel James Carroll you have been found guilty by the jury of murder. At law there is only one sentence I can pass and I therefore sentence you to life imprisonment.”
Thanking the jury for their time and dedication to the “taxing case,” the judge remanded Carroll back into custody and said he would fix the minimum tariff the convicted killer must spend in jail in early November.
During the trial the jury heard that for an unknown reason but possibly over a minor debt, Carroll (30), originally from Newry but with an address on Edward Street in Portadown, stabbed Mr Phelan five times - three to the neck and two to his chest, at the top of the Carrivekeeney Road in Newry before leaving him to bleed to death in a nearby garden.
The men had gone to the rural road apparently to buy quad bikes but instead, Carroll attacked him and the jury saw CCTV footage of the stricken and bleeding victim trying to hide in the garden of a nearby house.
Carroll found him and “rifled” through his victim’s pockets to retrieve his phone before getting into Mr Phelan’s blue Peugeot and speeding off.
As he lay fatally wounded, the jury heard how Mr Phelan called his girlfriend, asking her to come to him and repeatedly telling her “I’m dying” before calling 999 himself.
The distressing 999 call was played to the jury and they heard him tell the operator “my mate, my mate Dan” had been his attacker.
The convicted killer, who the jury heard has previous convictions for assault and for kidnapping a woman off the street in Dundalk, remained steadfastly silent throughout several hours of police interviews.
It wasn’t until 15 months later that Carroll came up with his story of three men coming over the mountain, attacking Mr Phelan and threatening him before leaving the scene.
Carroll claimed he had been in contact with two “senior dissident republicans” in the days leading up to the murder, claiming they had introduced him to the three men he claimed committed the stabbing.
He told the jury while he had been “given permission” to talk about the incident, that permission was in the basis of “no names” being mentioned.
As prosecuting QC put to the jury in his closing speech, if each piece of evidence against Carroll was like a strand of rope, when they considered all of the evidence against him, “that would leave you with a rope you could tie an ocean liner up with”.
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