Trial opens of man accused of manslaughter Offaly publican

The man accused of the manslaughter of a well known Offaly publican two years ago confessed to the killing to a “jailhouse informant”, a court has heard.

The man accused of the manslaughter of a well known Offaly publican two years ago confessed to the killing to a “jailhouse informant”, a court has heard.

Eddie Wing (31) with a previous address at Roscrea, Co Tipperary has pleaded not guilty to the unlawful killing of 64-year-old Matthew Farrell at the Gaelic Bar, Daingean, Co Offaly on April 1, 2009. He has also denied burglary at the Gaelic Bar on the same date.

The court heard that during a burglary of the pub on the night of March 31, 2009, Mr Farrell, who had a heart condition, had his hands bound behind his back.

The father-of-four suffered blunt force trauma to his head and face and suffered a heart attack. He was found face down the next morning by his son.

On the opening day of the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday (Monday), the jury were told that the main prosecution witness is a convicted burglar who had shared a prison cell with the accused in late 2009.

Mary Rose Gearty SC, prosecuting, said that this man, described as a “jailhouse informant”, would give evidence that the accused broke down in tears after telling him he had killed Mr Farrell.

Ms Gearty said the jury would be told that this State witness would say Mr Wing confessed to the crime on three separate occasions.

She said the jury would hear evidence that this man, who is not being identified, went to gardai after his release from prison and told them he knew who had killed Mr Farrell.

Counsel told the jury that at the end of the trial, they would be warned that they must be very careful about convicting on the basis of a jailhouse informant’s testimony.

She said: “Internationally there has been comment of the dangers of convicting a person on evidence from a jailhouse informant. There are many reasons for caution.”

She said they could convict on this evidence but they would be warned in some detail why it may be dangerous to convict.

She said the main prosecution witness had a heroin addiction at the time of the burglaries and at the time of going into prison. She said he had served his sentence and has no outstanding charges against him.

The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan and a jury of seven men and five women.