Man gets life for Sligo pensioner's murder

Thursday 03 April 2014 21.54
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

A 30-year-old man who severely beat a pensioner and left him tied up in his home after a robbery has been found guilty of murder and jailed for life.

Simon McGinley of Connaughton Road, Sligo had admitted manslaughter but denied murdering 67-year-old Eugene Gillespie at his home in September 2012.

He also admitted false imprisonment and robbery at his home in Old Market Street, Sligo.

The victim's family said the community was devastated by the murder.

The family made a public appeal in court for more resources to be given to gardaí to "safeguard those at risk in this country who are under daily attack".

After the attack McGinley telephoned a nearby garda station to say a man was tied up in a house.

But gardaí checked the wrong house and Mr Gillespie was not found for a further day.

He died in hospital three days after the attack.

The trial heard he had been severely beaten and had suffered multiple injuries including a fractured skull and jaw.

His hands were bound so tightly he would not have recovered the use of one, had he lived.

He died from pneumonia due to the coma caused by his head injuries.

McGinley handed himself into gardaí a week after the incident and said he did not intend to kill the pensioner.

Defence lawyers said McGinley accepted he brought about Mr Gillespie's death but said no weapon had been used.

Senior Counsel Blaise O’Carroll said it was a tragedy that gardaí had not discovered Mr Gillespie after the accused man made the call.

However, the prosecution said the call made by the accused did not shift the responsibility to the gardaí.

Senior Counsel Sean Gillane said: "If you break a person's legs and leave them lying on a beach and the tide comes in and they drown you cannot blame the ocean."

After almost five hours of deliberation over two days, the jury found him guilty of murder by unanimous verdict.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Gillespie's niece Aisling Tinsley said he was "an ordinary man with some extraordinary talent.

"His death leaves the unbearable loss of a man, our man, full of compassion acceptance, warmth, and limitless good nature, love and security.

"He was a man of thoughtful words, endless sound advice and he was our rock," she said.

"His devastating and unnecessary death had a terrible and lasting effect on the whole community in Sligo.

"Especially the elderly who now feel even more vulnerable in their own home because of Eugene's terrible death less than 200 metres from the garda station," Ms Tinsley said.