Day four of the Finn Colclough trial and we’re into the home stretch. Tomorrow the jury will be hearing closing speeches from the Prosecution and Defence before being charged to begin their deliberations by the judge. So it is with every criminal trial just before the waiting begins.
Today we heard what Finn told the gardai when they interviewed him in the hours following the stabbing. The transcripts of three interviews were read to the court by prosecuting counsel Mary Ellen Ring SC. We heard his precise answers to the questions put to him. He sounded as if he was struggling to understand what had happened.
As he told it, that night’s tragedy was nothing more than a terrible accident. He said he had seen Sean Nolan waving a bottle at them, visible in the brightly lit kitchen, probably one of the few lit windows at that hour of the night.
They were looking for a bottle opener, we’ve already heard that from Sean’s friend when they took the stand earlier in the trial to give their version of the night’s events. Finn said he only realised what they wanted when he came out of the house but before he stepped outside he had grabbed a pair of knives from the kitchen.
Finn told gardai that he came running out of the house screaming and waving the knives, wanting to scare the older boys away from his house as the misunderstanding continued. Tragically, Sean stepped forward. Finn said that he shouted at him “Are you going to use them and you shouldn’t be waving them around.”
There was a brief scuffle, the two came together before Sean stumbled back. “You stabbed me, you fucking stabbed me.” Finn said that he thought it was only a scratch. He had felt something connect but had no idea what had happened. He ran back into to house and looked at his hands and saw the blood.
We’ve already heard that Finn was diagnosed at the age of ten with OCD. He was no longer receiving treatment at the time of the incident but told gardai he had wanted to wash the blood off his hands. As he washed, he said, the knife fell into the sink and the water washed over it. He saw the blood on the blade but said he hadn’t meant to wash it, just his hands.
He also told gardai that the three cans of deodorant he had been carrying when he first encountered Sean and his friends were purely for the purpose of personal hygiene. He had been at a party earlier, he told gardai, and had been dancing, getting sweaty and smelly.
Finn sat in court today as his words were read to the court and stared at his hands. The heat of the courtroom and the cold of the weather had obviously taken affect and he sniffed from time to time. His hands constantly fiddled with a white tissue and he took nervous sips from a glass of water provided by his counsel.
When we heard the words Finn told the gardai, his apology for what had happened, Sean Nolan’s family shook their heads. Finn had told gardai he was sorry for the trouble he had caused. “It was an accident. I really, really didn’t mean it.”
He didn’t even look up as the court was shown the two cans of Right Guard deodorant and a miniature can of Lynx, now just parts of the body of evidence the jury would have access to as they came to their decision.
They’ll start those deliberations tomorrow and we’ll have an end to this sometime before next week. But no matter what decision the jury come to there are two families who will never recover from that night.