Writer and Author

Tag: Mark Spellman

Two Nights Out, Two Very Different Crimes.

On Friday, Dane Pearse was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence for the murder of Google employee Mark Spellman.  During the two week trial the jury heard that Mr Spellman was returning home from a night out when he was fatally stabbed by Pearse.

Most of the press who sat through the trial had remarked at some point about the similarities between the Pearse trial and the one of Finn Colclough some weeks before.  In both cases a young man out for an evening of celebration met their death when a chance encounter played out to a tragic ending.

But these two trials had very different outcomes.  Pearse was convicted of murder after the jury heard that he had returned armed with a decorative knife after Mr Spellman had kicked him to the ground in an earlier meeting.  Colclough on the other hand was convicted of manslaughter after the jury in his trial heard that he had come out of his house holding a knife in each hand and Sean Nolan, the deceased, had confronted him taking  up to four steps towards him

Sean Nolan died after celebrating completing his secondary education.  Mark Spellman was heading home with friends after a night out intending to spend the rest of the evening playing Playstation games.  Both were in high spirits.  Neither young man deserved to lose their lives.

But despite the similarities between the two crimes there are some very definite differences, differences that led to the two differing sentences.  Both cases had a whiff of the traditional north/south Dublin rivalry.  Colclough was from the exclusive Waterloo Road, Nolan from the more working class Fairview on the north of the city.

In the more recent trial the locations were reversed (although this time both south of the Liffey).  Pearce grew up in working class Islandbridge while Spellman hailed from the salubrious coastal suburb of Dalkey.

But in both trials the old geographical and social preconceptions were less important that they might have seemed at first.  Both trials had their own peculiarities that guided the juries to their different verdicts.

In the earlier trial of Finn Colclough we heard the story of the tragic meeting between Nolan, on a 4am search for a girl he knew, and Colclough, who suffered from OCD and heightened nervous responses.  Tragically, Nolan’s response to square up to Colclough’s frantic attempt to scare him off led to his untimely death.

Pearse’s story was different.  He encountered Spellman for the first time when Spellman called out to him and his girlfriend as they ran down the road.  By most accounts Spellman was simply fooling around as he had been doing all the way home.  However things developed, there was a confrontation and Pearse ended up tipped over onto his backside when Spellman stuck out his foot at chest height in an approximation of a karate kick.

Pearse denied that hurt pride was his motive but it didn’t take him long to run back home and grab a souvenir bat and an ornamental knife from his bedroom. After a brief struggle Spellman lay dying in a neighbour’s garden.

Both Sean Nolan and Mark Spellman had received two stab wounds when they died but their post mortems revealed very different stories.  Nolan had only two wounds, on either side of his body.  One had cut through his lung and sliced his heart, killing him within the hour.  The wounds were consistent with simultaneous strikes and their were no tell tale defensive wounds indicating a lightening fast exchange.

Spellman’s body on the told a different story.  Both major stab marks could have been fatal.  One came from the front and the other had entered his back.  He had defensive cuts on his hands and forearms, the signs of a struggle for possession of the knife.

After the verdict had been announced on Sunday, Mark Spellman’s little sister Emma told the court in her victim impact statement that she had lost her “goofy” brother and that at his death “a little piece of all of us died too.”

Over the weekend Dane Pearse started his life sentence.  Finn Colclough will have to wait until December to learn how long he will serve in prison.  The two cases might have a superficial similarity but a closer look shows the differences.  For the Spellman and Nolan families on the other hand, the outcome was the same.  They have both lost a part of them and will have to live with the effects of those two night’s out for ever.

An Emotional Day

The family of Mark Spellman sobbed quietly as they listened again and again to accounts of the horrific wounds he received in an altercation with Dane Pearse.  Pearse himself hung his head and looked at his hands as the court heard accounts of a fight with a tragic ending that broke out in the small hours of August 4th last year.

His defence counsel Diarmaid McGuinness fiercely cross examined Spellman’s friends about what happened to lead to the altercation.  We heard that the night had started well.  Mr Spellman had been out with friends from Google where he worked.  One of them, Finbar O’Mahony was leaving to go travelling and by all accounts it was a good night.

Mark, Finbar and another friend Oisin Hoctor decided to go back to Mark’s flat in Sandymounth to have a few more drinks and spend the rest of the night playing on his Playstation.  His two friends told the court that the three of them were in high spirits, fooling around and joking as they slowly made their way towards Sandymount.

Hoctor bowed his head and laughed to himself as he heard O’Mahony describe tipping Mark over a low wall they were sitting on.  The deceased man had been in good form that night both men told the court.  Stopping off at a Spar shop on the way, Mark opened the back door of a parking car and made to get in, once again fooling around.

But the testimony rapidly took a darker turn.  O’Mahony told the court he had seen Pearse stab his friend in the side.  Pearse denies the murder of Mark Spellman but his defense counsel have acknowledged that he went back to his house and came back out armed with a bat and an ornamental dagger he had in his bedroom.  It was this knife that inflicted the fatal injuries.

Lola Simpson, in whose garden Mark had lain dying, painted a vivid picture of a terrifying encounter, overheard from her bedroom above.  She described how she had been woken that night by people talking loudly as they passed by the house.  She was lying awake in her bed, she said when she heard some more people approaching.

It was just “chitter chatter” she said, “quiet conversation.”  They didn’t have local accents.  She thought that some had been from the country and one voice was “very refined”.  She listened to them pass and settled back down to sleep.

Then she heard screaming and the sounds of panic.  She smiled nervously as she asked was it acceptable to say the words she had heard in court.  “You are not allowed to censor the evidence.”  Mr Justice Paul Carney told her from the lofty height of his bench.

Her garden gate, stiff at the best of times was slammed open with great force.  Then she heard someone running.  “It was very frightening running, a stampede towards my front door.”

She said she heard a shout, like a howl, which made her jump out of bed and rush to the window. Peeping out of the shutters she could see someone lying in the long grass at the end of the garden.  She hurried downstairs, stopping only to put on her slippers and dressing gown and went outside.

There she found Oisin Hoctor bending over his stricken friend.  He was trying to lift him up.  “He got him up on his feet.  He just melted.  He melted between the guys hands onto the ground.” Her voice breaking with emotion she described the wound she could now see in Mark Spellman’s side.  Mark’s family wept openly as she described a gaping wound, with his intestines showing through.

Finbar O’Mahony told the court that he had his phone in his hand when Dane Pearse walked by him out of the garden a short time before Mrs Simpson came out.  He said Pearse had blood on his sleeve and turned towards him as he walked away with the girl in a white dress he may or may not have been arguing with a short time earlier.  “You’d better get an ambulance for your friend,” he said calmly, according to O’Mahony’s recollection.

Another Night Out that Ended in Tragedy

The trial of Dane Pearse started today.  The 21-year old, from Londonbridge Drive in Islandbridge in Dublin 4, is accused of the murder of Mark Spellman (26) who died from stab wounds after an altercation on an August night last year.  He denies the charge.

Today we heard evidence from one of Mr Spellman’s friends, Oisin Hoctor, who told the court that he and Mr Spellman had been at a leaving do for a colleague of theirs from the Google offices in Dublin.

The evening had started out pleasantly enough, he said, with him enjoying a couple of pints in the beer garden of the Beggars Bush pub on Haddington Road. He was joined by Mr Spellman and his girlfriend and eventually, after a couple more pints they moved on the the leaving party which was being held at the 51 pub nearby.

At the end of the night, Mr Hoctor, Mr Spellman and another friend headed off.  There had been the suggestion of a party and Mr Hoctor told the court he was hoping to persuade Mr Spellman to go to that as the three of them walked along to a nearby Spar shop.

But the lure of video games and drink in the comfort of Mr Spellman’s Sandymount apartment was too enticing and a plan was reached.  They bought provisions; Pringles and some Coke for mixers, before starting the walk back.

Mr Hoctor described a normal enough night out.  He and his friend were fooling around, he said, and Mr Spellman was walking ahead trying to speed them up as the going was slow that night.  He said he had run home to fetch a bottle of vodka he remembered having and caught up the other two at a bridge crossing the Dodder.

He actually got there first, the others had slowed down again and took their time reaching him, he told the court.  But the evening that had started out so pleasantly was to have a tragic ending.

Mr Hoctor said he had barely noticed the couple walking ahead.  He and his friend were talking and didn’t notice that Mr Spellman had widened the gap between them.  He said he could hear some kind of shouting up ahead but didn’t think much of it.

When Mr Spellman reached Londonbridge Road, the corner of Londonbridge Drive to be exact, he stopped.  Mr Hoctor said he couldn’t see who he was talking to but told the court he and his friend speeded up because they knew Mr Spellman had got involved with something that wasn’t his business.

They arrived to see Mr Spellman talking to a man and a woman.  Mr Hoctor said the couple were both shouting and acting aggressively and he heard Mr Spellman say “Calm down, Buddy”.  He thought he was calling the man “Dave”.

Things escalated and Mr Hoctor told the jury that he saw the man run at Mr Spellman, who raised his foot and connected with the man’s chest.  The man ended up on his arse but seemed to calm down a bit.

There were more words and the two sides separated.  Mr Hoctor said they were laughing about the incident but he didn’t remember Mr Spellman explaining exactly what had happened.

A short time later they heard running footsteps and Mr Hoctor said he recognised the same man running towards them.  He said the man was holding what looked like two weapons one in each hand and was running straight at Mr Spellman.

The force with which they connected was enough to carry them into the middle of the garden of one of the nearby houses.Mr Hoctor told the court that he was panicking and couldn’t get the garden gate open.  It must have taken him several seconds and when he did get it open the man ran past him, away down Londonbridge Drive.

Mr Hoctor fought back tears as he described finding his friend in the darkness of the garden.  He saw a “shininess” in the light from the street lights and found a knife, he estimated to be about 8″ long.  He could see blood on the blade.

He swallowed as he described pulling Mr Spellman into the light so he could see how badly he was injured.  The court was quiet, apart from the sobs from Mr Spellman’s family, as he described seeing a knife wound on Mr Spellman’s right side.  He said he knew it was bad as he could see what he thought were intestines sticking out.

In the prosecution opening speech this morning we heard that two ambulances were called that night for both the deceased and the accused, who had returned home wounded.  We heard that Mark Spellman was pronounced dead at 3.25 that morning, August 4th.

The trial is expected to last until sometime in the middle or end of next week.  But once again, there are two families for who the events of that night will last much longer than that.

© 2023 Abigail Rieley

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑