A 42 year-old man has begun a life sentence for murdering his nextdoor neighbour in Lattin village by stabbing him with an ornamental dagger.
A jury at the Central Criminal Court in Limerick last Thursday, unanimously found Richard Higgins from No. 1 New Houses, Lattin guilty of the murder of 29 year-old Sean Murphy from No.2 New Houses, Lattin outside his home on January 17 last year.
Higgins, orginally from Lenihan Ave., Ballinacurra-Weston, Limerick, had pleaded not guilty to the murder charge but the jury returned a guilty verdict following almost six hours of deliberations.
Higgins was also convicted of two counts of threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Mr Murphy and his partner Paula Hassett. Sentencing for these offences was adjourned to a later date.
During the 12 day long trial, the jury heard that relations between the families began to deteriorate in October, 2009 after Higgins’ partner, Emma Butler, went to her neighbours complaining about their children. On the same evening, Higgins went to the Murphy home armed with an axe and shouted abuse.
On January 17, 2010, Mr Murphy had been watching a match in a pub in Tipperary town and was taken home at about 8.40pm by his partner, Paula Hassett.
Driving towards their home, they passed the local pub in Lattin, where Higgins was standing outside. He made a two-fingered gesture at the couple.
Higgins walked into the estate as Mr Murphy and Ms Hassett got their children out of their car. He shouted at his neighbour:
“Come on now, you c**t. I’ll f**king kill you.”
The two men were pulling at each other’s tops while Ms Hassett was trying to get their children inside.
Murphy backed away to another neighbouring house, with Higgins following him.
Higgins stabbed the victim with an ornamental dagger. As Ms Hassett rushed to her partner’s aid, the dying man told her: “He’s after stabbing me.”
Higgins said: “I told you I would get you, you c**t” and walked back to his own house.
Despite the efforts of emergency services and neighbours, Sean Murphy died that evening.
After his arrest Higgins claimed he had been acting in self-defence on the night of the murder.
The victim’s father, also Sean, gave a victim-impact statement to the Central Criminal Court following the verdict.
He said his family’s lives were shattered after his son was brutally taken from them. His son’s two young children were given a life sentence, the day the father they adored was murdered.
Mr Murphy senior told how his granddaughter asked could she go to heaven for her birthday a month after her dad’s murder.
Referring to his son as “Seanie”, Mr Murphy refuted any suggestion that he was a violent man, and said his family had sought justice from the trial and not revenge.