Convicted killer and rapist loses appeal against conviction
A convicted killer who subjected a woman to a sexual assault that was likened to "rape with a machete" has lost an appeal against his conviction.
Walter Morrissey, aged 70, of Upper Bridge St, Callan, Co Kilkenny, was found guilty in 2013 of leaving his former partner with life-threatening injuries after an aggravated sexual assault at his home.
During his trial in 2013 the Central Criminal Court heard medical evidence that Morrissey had used his fist to tear a 6cm rip in the woman’s vagina. When she was brought to hospital, a doctor remarked that he did not know how she was still alive.
Gynaecologist Ray O’Sullivan said it was an injury more likely to be seen in women raped with machetes in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In 1977 Morrissey was convicted of the double manslaughter of a father and son by deliberately driving his car into them. Morrissey drove over his neighbour, Francis McEnery, who was out walking with his four-year-old son Marcus in Mullinahone, Co Tipperary, and received a four-year jail term for the killings.
In 1999 he was convicted of seven counts of indecent assault of a woman. He was jailed for 13 years in 2013 when Mr Justice George Birmingham described him as a cunning, devious, and manipulative man who represents a significant threat to the public.
Morrissey appealed his conviction on four grounds. He said that the trial judge had erred in not giving him sufficient time to instruct a new solicitor after Morrissey sacked his legal team on day eight of his trial. The trial judge told Morrissey that if he wanted to sack his legal team he could, but he would not be given a new one and would have to represent himself.
Morrissey further claimed the judge should have given greater regard to concerns he raised after two jurors were discharged during the trial, leaving only ten to deliver the final verdict.
He also stated that the judge should have discharged the jury after the victim revealed during cross examination that Morrissey was a sex offender and "on the sex offender list".
Justice John Edwards sitting with Justice Alan Mahon and Justice John Hedigan at the Court of Appeal refused all grounds and upheld the conviction. Dealing with the claim that Morrissey was prejudiced when the injured party revealed that he was on the sex offender's register, they noted that the defence team did not immediately object and ask for the jury to be discharged.
Instead, Justice Edwards said, the defence team took a tactical decision to continue with the trial, only making the application to discharge the jury later. The judge accepted that the comment was "of the most prejudicial type" but said the decision not to object at the time precludes the Court of Appeal from considering it as a basis for overturning the conviction now.
They dismissed Morrissey's concerns regarding the two discharged jurors having noted that his legal team consulted him before the judge discharged the jurors and he told them he had no objection. Addressing his complaint that the trial should not have gone ahead after Morrissey sacked his legal team, the Justice Edwards said the trial judge "acted correctly and properly".
He added: "It should not be open to an accused, who senses that a trial may be going against him, to seek to up-scuttle the proceedings and secure a retrial before a new jury by discharging his legal team."
As he was led away to continue his 13-year sentence Morrissey called to the judges and said, "this is a 100 per cent insult" and "heap of crooks. Liars."