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Limerick Tragedy Unfolds: Quilty and Dennehy Found Guilty of Manslaughter |

Limerick Tragedy Unfolds: Quilty and Dennehy Found Guilty of Manslaughter

In a courtroom drama that unfolded today at the County Limerick Assizes, Martin Quilty and Michael Dennehy were indicted for the wilful murder of Michael Downes from Ballyhadeen, Bruff, on December 3rd. The trial, presided over by Justice Ross, witnessed a prosecution led by Mr Irving, K.C., and Mr McElligott, instructed by Mr J.S. Gaffney, Crown Solicitor.

Martin Quilty, a local farmer residing in close proximity to Downes’s residence, and Dennehy, a servant in Quilty’s employment, found themselves facing serious charges following a tragic altercation. According to Mr Fleming’s opening statement for the Crown, the dispute originated with a quarrel between Downes and Dennehy. The latter, armed with tongs, sought to confront Downes, leading to a tumultuous sequence of events.

Shortly thereafter, Quilty intervened, brandishing a gun and firing at Downes, with the fatal shot striking him 2.5 inches below the knee. The subsequent investigation revealed Downes’s life was claimed by the gunshot wound, succumbing to shock and haemorrhage.

The police, in their examination of the crime scene, discovered Downes with a gunshot wound to his leg and two additional wounds on his head, apparently inflicted by stones thrown by Dennehy. Further inspection revealed Quilty’s gun stock cracked, hinting at a possible use as a bludgeon after the firearm discharge.

Ellen Huggins, the mother-in-law of the deceased, provided crucial eyewitness testimony, affirming the sequence of events described by the prosecution. She recounted witnessing the initial gunshot and then observing Quilty assaulting Downes with the gun, striking him on the back twice before being restrained.

The testimony of eleven-year-old Ned Downes, the son of the deceased, offered a harrowing account of the confrontation. After the initial altercation between Dennehy and Downes was halted, Dennehy taunted Downes to come out of his home. Armed with a sweeping brush, Downes emerged, only to be struck down by a paving stone thrown by Dennehy. The situation escalated when Quilty, gun in hand, appeared and fired at Downes from close range.

Under cross-examination, Ned Downes refuted claims that his father had entered Quilty’s property, though he admitted to previously stating otherwise before the magistrates. The defence sought to highlight potential inconsistencies in the witness’s testimony.

Margaret Downes, the mother, and Ellen Downes, the daughter of the deceased, provided corroborative evidence supporting the prosecution’s version of events.

Sergeant Jones of the R.I.C. testified to finding Downes with a gunshot wound through the leg. Quilty, upon arrest, claimed he acted in self-defence when he saw Downes in his yard, asserting guilt only if the shot was above Downes’s boots.

Dennehy, in his defence, stated that Quilty came to his aid, emphasizing that Quilty had no motive to harm Downes. The defence portrayed Downes as a violent individual, particularly under the influence of alcohol.

After ten minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against the accused. Sentencing was deferred, leaving Quilty and Dennehy awaiting their fate as the tragic events surrounding Michael Downes’s death continue to reverberate in the community.

Freeman’s Journal – Friday 08 March 1912

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