The house at New Antrim Street in Castlebar where the tragic events unfolded in July 2013

Man who killed Mayo brothers poured boiling water over one of them

A MAYO man has admitted poured boiling water over a disabled pensioner and beat the man's elderly brother in his bed.

The memo of Alan Cawley's interviews with gardai were being read to the jury in his murder trial at the Central Criminal Court today.

The 30-year-old is charged with murdering Thomas Blaine and John (Jack) Blaine. Both had illnesses.

Cawley of Four Winds, Corrinbla, Ballina, has admitted killing the brothers. However, he has pleaded not guilty to murdering them on July 10, 2013, at New Antrim Street in Castlebar.

Garda Hugh O'Donnell testified that he interviewed Cawley following his arrest.

He told Denis Vaughan Buckley SC, prosecuting, that the accused had initially denied involvement. However, he said his memory came back when gardai showed him CCTV footage of him entering the Blaine home with Jack Blaine.

He said he had gone upstairs looking for sleeping tablets or drugs, but couldn't find any. He came back downstairs and the man with whom he had entered the house was in the kitchen.

“He was very clingy and he wouldn't speak properly so I asked: ‘What's wrong? What are you looking for?'†he said. 

“I felt the best idea was to show the man that men can't always get what they want... that if I inflicted some pain it would make up for everything in the past.â€

He said he beat him with a stick and made his way to the front door. However he saw another man in a bed at the front of the house.

He said he hit this man with a stick about 25 times before returning to the first man.

“I thought it was a fitting punishment to put hot water on him,†he said.

He said he did this, after first boiling a kettle of water.

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy carried out the post-mortem exams on both brothers. She testified that each had been the victim of a violent assault.

She gave Thomas Blaine's cause of death as blood loss, brain trauma, chest trauma, and choking on blood due to blunt injuries to his head, face and chest. Contributory factors were blunt trauma to his limbs and fractures of his Adam's Apple, right wrist and hand bones.

She outlined ‘severe and extensive' injuries to his head, neck, chest and limbs. These included ‘significant' fractures to his skull, which was fragmented in one area, and further fractures of his breastbone, multiple ribs and a bone in each hand.

She said that some of his bruises were in ‘a tramline pattern' that suggested he had been struck with something long and narrow. It would have also been fairly heavy, she added.

She said he could have been struck up to 12 times to the head, five times to the chest, six or more times to the hands and arms, and a number of times to the hip and thigh. Considerable force would have been needed to inflict the skull injuries.

She said that, despite the violence of the assault, his death was not immediate: there was clear evidence that he had swallowed and inhaled a significant amount of blood from his facial injuries.

She said that the pattern of trauma and blood staining at the scene suggested that the initial assault took place while he was lying on his bed and that he had attempted to defend himself. She explained that injuries to his arms were typical of defensive injuries.

The cause of his brother, Jack Blaine's death was blunt force trauma to the head, which caused blood loss, brain injury and obstruction of breathing due to facial injuries. A scalding injury and blunt trauma to his chest and limbs were contributory factors.

He had received multiple fractures to his skull. A piece of bone had become embedded in his brain, which was bruised.

One tooth had been dislodged from its socket and was found in his stomach. He had also swallowed and inhaled blood from his injuries.

A flap of skin was missing from the back of his right hand, where a gouge had been taken out of the skin, she said.

She explained that he appeared to have made fairly feeble attempts to defend himself, which was most likely due to his physical disability; she explained that he had curvature of the spine.

She noted that there was evidence that his trunk, arms, legs and genital area had been scalded, with the pattern suggesting he was sitting when hot liquid was poured or thrown onto his exposed skin.

“Such burns would be extremely painful,†she explained.

Under cross examination by Ms. Caroline Biggs SC, defending, she said it was difficult to categorise a type of killing based on the perpetrator's state of intoxication.

“However, in this case there appears to have been what pathologists call ‘overkill', with numerous injuries, far more than necessary to subdue, overcome or kill a person,†she explained.

“In the majority of cases I deal with, the injuries nowhere reach this extreme degree of violence,†she continued. “In this case, the violence does seem to have been coordinated. There's evidence of scalding, a very purposeful act.â€

While she said that this was ‘a sustained and violent assault', she noted that the scalding suggested that there had been ‘a break in proceedings'.

“It's an unusual pattern,†she said.

She agreed that, given the lack of ‘cellular reaction' and the position in which Jack Blaine was found, it was ‘more than likely' that he was unconscious when scalded.

She was re-examined by Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, who asked about the level of violence.

“This was the extreme of violence,†she replied.

The trial continues before Mr. Justice Paul Coffey and a jury of four women and eight men.

- Report by Natasha Reid.