Writer and Author

A Day When Not a Lot Happened.

Today was another day of bits and bobs in the Ronnie Dunbar murder trial.  He denies murdering Sligo teenager Melissa Mahon in September 2006 somewhere in Sligo and in recent days the trial has been bogged down with legal minutiae.

Once again the subject of Melissa’s dental records was raised.  These records from a practise near her previous home in Walthamstow in England, were used as the basis for comparison with the teeth found as part of the skeletal remains on the shores of Lough Gill.  It was these records that led a forensic odontologist to declare that the bones were indeed those of Melissa Mahon.  Today we heard from two more dentists who either didn’t treat Melissa in person or who couldn’t remember the then 8 year old.  They added very little to the information already before the court.

We also heard from the manager of the sports centre in Collooney where Dunbar went to play indoor football once a week on a Thursday, between 7 & 8.  These times are important because Dunbar’s two daughters say that they were brought to one of these practises after dumping Melissa’s body into the River Bonet on the day she died.  Out of this evidence we learnt that Melissa wore prominent eye make-up and the two Conroy girls were “pleasantly loud” when they came with their father to watch him play.

There was one other football related witness, a local garda who denied he was distancing himself from Dunbar.  He acknowledged going to the birthday party that has been mentioned several times during this week’s evidence.  We know it was for a man called “Big Mick” and that Dunbar was there socialising with his many friends.

Finally there was a meteorologist who told us that there were thundery showers in Ireland over several days in September 2006.

In any court case you will get these kinds of witnesses.  There mainly to dot the “i”s and cross the “t”s, who add little to the storyline the prosecution are building.  What they offer are small insights that sometimes bolster the story as a whole, sometimes not.  They are essential for a legal case, which must, after all be proven beyond all reasonable doubt but they don’t lend themselves to snappy headlines.  It’s just as well legal proceedings are aimed at the jury rather than the press bench.

The court rose early for lunch to allow the prosecution and defence time to prepare for a larger piece of evidence in the afternoon but as things turned out this larger piece of evidence was never started.  Trials frequently stop and start for any number of reasons, they often go into hiatus for hours or even days.  Sometimes barristers have to make applications to the judge, which must be done in the absence of the jury.  Sometimes there are matters that need to be dealt with in the absence of judge or jury.  This was the case today.  As a result I have very little to write about this afternoon.

This is the reality of court reporting.  Sometimes an awful lot happens and sometimes very little.  The trial will continue tomorrow and hopefully we’ll move on to that big bit of evidence.  But nothing is certain in this kind of job so we’ll just have to wait and see.

1 Comment

  1. Janina

    …very clever dotting the Is and crossing ts, I like it!

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