After just under four hours of deliberations the jury in the Finn Colclough trial have handed in their verdict.
The courtroom was silent as the registrar took the issue paper from the young female foreman. The tension in the room was palpable. Several members of Sean Nolan’s family started to sob silently even before the jury had taken their seats.
The Colclough camp was silent, sitting straighter as the registrar unfolded the yellow paper. Finn himself sat as he had sat throughout the trial, head down and staring at his hands. His mother Alix gripped the back of his seat and stared straight ahead while his father Michael sat impassively.
“The jury find the accused, Finn Colclough not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.”
There was silence in the court. As the judge completed the formalities the two families sat wrapped up in their own thoughts. The only overt emotion was from Finn’s young friends when they heard he would be spending the weeks until his sentence on December 19th behind bars.
The Nolan family sat quietly. Even his mother Charlotte, who had seemed so close to tears on many occasion during the trial, was dry eyed at the verdict.
Once Mr Justice Paul Carney climbed down from his high seat everyone stood around quietly. It was almost eerily calm. The various groups stood around without talking, there was a strange deference in the room.
As usual in these circumstances the press were waiting around to see if anyone would speak to us. At the midpoint of a Friday afternoon the normally buzzing Round Hall had the leaden calm of a funeral home as people broke off into small groups or wiped away silent tears. Neither side had any cause to celebrate. Neither had got the result they had secretly hoped for.
Even the traditional gathering outside the Four Courts was a muted affair. No one really expected anyone to speak to the press, after all, it will now be almost Christmas before the story has a resolution and it makes more sense to issue a statement when the story has an end of sorts.
But what was extraordinary was the way, when the Nolan family came through the gates of the courts onto the Quays the only sound was the muted clacking of the cameras as photographers stood and took their passing shots and the reporters stood in a mute group, microphones pointed down waiting as the family hurried past them. No-one stepped forward, no-one tried to speak as if this was a scene that ultimately we simply did not have a say in at this time.
Later, stopping off for an end of work pint after a bitch of a week, I watched Finn being led away from jail on the RTE evening news. Looking still so young, even though he is now branded a killer in the eyes of the law, he was shown being marched in handcuffs towards the waiting prison van. His walk seemed to take forever and it was noticeable that the route he was brought was neither the shortest nor the most secluded open to his guards.
It’s been a stressful day but my week I’m sure is nothing compared to the pain both families have and will suffer as a result of this terrible tragedy.
From now on it’s back to my favourite blonde and her Egyptian nemesis as I get ready for the Sharon Collins and Essam Eid sentence on Monday. It’ll be a weekend chained to the computer but it’s necessary. It’ll almost be a relief to deal with older subjects next week. The story of Finn Colclough and Sean Nolan was a horrible, tragic mess that could only leave a bad taste and a sad memory.