Man on trial over murder of Sligo man Eugene Gillespie

Tuesday 25 March 2014 23.08
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Eugene Gillespie died from bronchial pneumonia, due to the coma induced by his head injuries
Eugene Gillespie died from bronchial pneumonia, due to the coma induced by his head injuries
His body was discovered in his Sligo home in September 2012
His body was discovered in his Sligo home in September 2012

A murder trial at the Central Criminal Court has heard that a Sligo pensioner, who was severely beaten and tied up during a robbery at his home, went into a coma from his injuries and died three days later.

The 30-year-old man on trial for the murder of Eugene Gillespie phoned gardaí to inform them the 67-year-old was tied up in his home.

However, gardaí checked the wrong house and Mr Gillespie was not found until the following day.

Simon McGinley of Connaughton Road in Sligo admits manslaughter, but denies murdering Mr Gillespie at his home in Sligo on 22 September 2012.

He has also pleaded guilty to the false imprisonment of Mr Gillespie and trespass to commit robbery, at Old Market Street on 19 September 2012.

The court heard the accused man made an anonymous phone call to gardaí, to inform them a man was tied up in a house opposite the garda station.

However, gardaí checked the wrong house.

Mr Gillespie, who lived alone, was not found until late the following day, after friends and family became concerned about him.

He was found covered in blood and unconscious by his brother and nephew.

He was lying in the hallway with his hands tied behind his back.

His hands were swollen and he had bruising to his neck. There was evidence of a ligature around his neck. 

He also had swelling on his forehead, eyelids and the back of his neck. 

He had suffered a fractured skull and jaw bone. He died the next day in hospital from bronchial pneumonia, due to the coma induced by his head injuries.

Mr McGinley became a suspect in the investigation after the phone call was traced and CCTV footage was examined.

The following week he arrived at the garda station upset and dishevelled and told gardaí he had gone into the house intending to rob the pensioner, but did not intend to kill him.

Mr Gillespie's nephew Paul Gillespie said he saw his uncle two days before he was found and he was laughing, joking as normal.

He said his uncle was a retired telecoms worker who never drank or smoked.

He had a long-term partner but lived alone and was devoted to his dog and his hobby involving vintage cars.

He had left their family home on 19 September to return home to feed his dog as "that was his priority", he said.

They became concerned about his uncle, after he failed to turn up to meet his partner the following day.

She alerted the family after failing to reach him by phone the day after they were supposed to meet.

Paul Gillespie and his father Brian, who has since died, went to the house and found Mr Gillespie lying flat in the hallway of his home.

He said his father noticed his hands were tied behind his back.

They found a knife to cut the ties and his father was talking to Mr Gillespie throughout, but he was not responding.

He said he ran to the garda station which was nearby, while also phoning the ambulance.

Paul Gillespie said some of the rooms in the house had been badly ransacked and his uncle's keys and wallet were missing.

He said his uncle was security conscious as people have to be these days, but would not have been overly security conscious.