The teenager who stabbed Urantsetseg Tserendorj intended to rob her, not kill her, and should be convicted of manslaughter rather than murder, his lawyer told the Central Criminal Court.
Lawyers for the Public Prosecutor’s Office (DPP) and the 16-year-old defendant made their brief closing speeches at the trial this morning.
Mrs. Judge Mary Ellen Ring completed her assignment to the jury before the seven women and five men began their deliberations. They will return tomorrow.
Michael O’Higgins SC, for the defendant, said that although his client was only 14 at the time of the murder, he developed a drug addiction and went out stealing money to buy drugs.
He asked the jury to look at CCTV footage of the attack and consider whether the fatal injury to the deceased’s neck could have been an accident or a “clumsiness moment”.
Sean Gillane SC of the DPP said a person who stabs someone in the neck can only intend to cause serious harm. “That is the only logical conclusion in a cold analysis of the facts,” he said, adding “the reasonable verdict is guilty of murder.”
The defendant, who cannot be identified because he is a minor, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms Tserendorj but pleaded guilty to her manslaughter on January 29, 2021. The state did not follow his plea.
He has also pleaded guilty to making a knife and attempting to rob Ms Tserendorj on a walkway between George’s Dock and Custom House Quay at the IFSC in Dublin on January 20, 2021.
Before the closing speeches, the defense called two witnesses – an aunt and a grandmother of the accused. The aunt said she was in a car with the defendant when a radio news report mentioned that a woman had been seriously injured after being stabbed at the IFSC the previous day.
She said the defendant got “really excited” and nervous, asked her to turn up the radio volume and then asked to be taken home. When he returned home, she said the defendant went to his bedroom.
The boy’s grandmother said she raised the defendant when he was a baby because his mother was addicted to heroin. The boy has been abusing drugs since he was 12 and would steal to pay for his addiction.
On January 21, 2021, the day after the stabbing, the defendant told her: “That woman who was stabbed at the IFSC, that was me”.
The witness said she was upset, as was the defendant, who told her, “I didn’t want to do it. I’m going to the police station.” He later added, “I didn’t know I had them.”
In his closing speech, Mr Gillane said for the DPP that the key issue for the jury was to determine the mental state of the defendant if “he did what he undoubtedly did”. He said the charge case was that the defendant made the decision to go out and rob someone with a knife and was cycling through Dublin city center until he came across Ms Tserendorj, who was walking home from work alone.
The lawyer added: “The decision to rob her with this knife is made by him. It was his choice to approach and confront her, and it was his choice to produce the knife and his choice to use it.”
The defendant stabbed Ms. Tserendorj in the neck just below her ear with a serrated knife, the lawyer said. “What is the natural and probable consequence of this?” he asked.
“A knife in the neck can only result in serious injury,” he said, adding that anyone who inflicts such an injury must have intended serious injury and is therefore guilty of murder.
Mr Gillane added: “It is not a happy conclusion but it is the only logical conclusion of a cold analysis of the facts and the corresponding verdict is guilty of murder.”
Mr O’Higgins of the defense told the jury that if they are satisfied the stabbing was not an accident they must determine whether the defendant intended to cause serious injury or death.
The lawyer said his client, who was a child, had no honorable intentions but a drug addiction, which he paid for by stealing people. Such crimes are the “bread and butter” of the county criminal court, the attorney said, and while it is unusual for a 14-year-old to commit such crimes, it is not.
He looked for a soft target, someone who was vulnerable, and found Mrs. Tserendorj walking alone. ‘I’m not hiding from it,’ said Mr O’Higgins, ‘but I beg you not to accuse him of it any more than you need to ascertain his intention or his state of mind. The intention was to get money from a human being.”
He said that robbers usually don’t seriously hurt their target, but want to “get the money as quickly and cleanly as possible.”
The robbery was unsuccessful, Mr O’Higgins said, but there was no secondary motive to seriously injure the deceased.
He asked the jury to look at CCTV footage, which he said shows Ms Tserendorj walked away after the encounter and showed no signs of serious injury, while the defendant cycled past her and drove away. It’s a reasonable view that he didn’t know he’d significantly injured her in any way, the attorney said, and he asked why, if he intended to kill her, he didn’t act on it before cycling away.
Mr O’Higgins said a security officer told the court that around the time of the stabbing, a youth matching the description of the accused approached him looking for a cigarette and was clearly intoxicated. Mr O’Higgins asked the jury to consider the effects of intoxication on a 14-year-old’s coordination and whether he could have been so drunk that he could not have formulated an intention.
He said the defendant’s reaction when he heard about the stabbing on the news indicates he had no intention of seriously injuring Ms. Tserendorj.
The attorney also reminded the jury that Assistant State Pathologist Dr. Heidi Okkers told the trial that the injury, which partially severed the deceased’s internal carotid artery, contained an “unfortunate element”.
He said the defendant did not “attack” Ms. Tserendorj and hit her in the neck with maximum force. There was “arm-flapping and running-around motion,” he said, and it’s hard to tell whether the injury was inflicted accidentally or in a “moment of awkwardness with no underlying decision.”
Mr O’Higgins reminded the jury that they are holding the life of a 14-year-old in their hands and must examine the evidence fairly, not with sympathy but with human compassion and wisdom. In pleading guilty to manslaughter, he said the defendant accepted responsibility for what he did and the appropriate verdict was manslaughter, not murder.
Ms. Judge Mary Ellen Ring told the jury that prosecutors must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt and if the jury is not satisfied that the defendant intended to kill or cause serious injury, then the appropriate verdict is manslaughter. If they are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to kill Ms. Tserendorj or seriously harm her, they must find him guilty of murder.
The jury will return to the Central Criminal Court tomorrow to continue their deliberations.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/teen-who-stabbed-mongolian-woman-to-death-wanted-to-rob-her-not-kill-her-murder-trial-hears-41520291.html Teenager who stabbed Mongolian woman meant to rob, not kill, murder trial heard