Self defence or a licence to kill?

Mayo farmer Padraig Nally has been found not guilty of the manslaughter of John Ward. The jury at the Central Criminal Court delivered its majority verdict after three days of deliberations. Ward died after being shot twice with a single barrel shotgun and beaten with a stick. Nally’s supporters will see this as an innocent and terrified man defending his home from a burglar while others feel it makes Mayo “look like Alabama”.
The initial verdict found Nally guilty but this was quashed and a re-trial was ordered when the Court of Criminal Appeal agreed that the trial judge, Mr Justice Paul Carney, had erred in law by not allowing the jury to consider a defence of full self-defence and by not allowing it to find Mr Nally not guilty.

Brief outline of what happened between Nally and Ward:

Ward was a member of the Travelling community and the father of eleven children. He was shot twice and beaten with a stick 20 times after he entered Mr Nally’s farmyard on 14 October 2004. The second and fatal shot was fired after Mr Ward had left the yard. Gardaí say it was fired from a distance of no more than 4.5 metres.

“I was out of my mind for these lads calling to my house all year,” he said in a statement.

Nally said he saw Ward’s son Tom in a car in his driveway and that he saw John Ward going in the back door of his farm. He had seen Ward a couple of weeks earlier.

He went back to his shed and took a gun, which was already loaded, out of a barrel there.

“I said ‘what are you doing in there, you rogue?’ ”

He said the first shot went off with excitement and hit Ward in the right hip.

Ward went straight for him and a fight began. Nally kicked Mr Ward in his back and blows were exchanged.

Nally said Ward attempted to take the gun but Nally then beat him about the head with a piece of wood.

“I struck him on the head and hands and feet. I must have struck him 20 times anyways,” said Nally while Ward shouted for his son Tom.

Nally could hear the car, in which Tom was sitting, revving. He went into the shed to get more cartridges and when he came out, he said he saw Ward walking along the road towards the village of Cross.

He pulled up the gun and shot him again. He said Mr Ward died instantly and he lifted up the body and threw it over a wall. He then reloaded the gun and took it in his car when he drove to his neighbour’s house.

Garda Det Sgt Carroll said there was a fear among elderly people in the area of people at that time. In 2004, there had been 20 crimes against property in the local Garda sub-district. Ward had approximately 80 previous convictions.

  • joeCanuck

    Well I didn’t sit in court and hear all of the evidence, but from what has been reported, if he shot Ward in the back as he was walking away, it seems a clear case of manslaughter.

  • aquifer

    A single barrelled shotgun would not be the weapon of choice for a special agent.

  • Rory

    A difficult case and yet one that illustrates the necessity of knee-jerk legislation in reaction to uninformed opinion from those unaffected by the local conditions that gave rise to this incident. The importance of trial by a peer jury who may better appreciate the wider circumstances underlying and yet render a verdict without prejudice, if that is indeed ever humanly possible, is yet again brought before our judgement in the wider society.

    While there are obvious parallels with the case of George Martin, an English farmer who also shot a persistently incursive criminal from the travelling community ( or, as Viz might have it ” a thievin’ gippo bastard”) there are clear differences of premeditation that the jury might have inferred in Martin’s conviction that were not apparent in this unhappy case.

    As for me, the divided jury sums up my thinking on the matter – I don’t know. I am glad I was spared the jury’s burden

  • Donnacha

    I’m not au fait with all the facts of this case, nor with the finer points of the law surrounding self-defence, but firing a fatal shot into someone walking away would negate the defence of self-defence, surely. Or is a fatal shot now considered reasonable force in Mayo?

  • Secur O’Crat

    Rory. Best if you write in English. John Ward is no loss. Good riddance, thief.

  • Cahal

    From wiki, on Justifiable homicide:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justifiable_homicide

    “A non-criminal homicide, usually committed in self-defense or in defense of another, may be called in some cases in the United States. A homicide may be considered justified if it is done to prevent a very serious crime, such as rape, armed robbery, or murder. The assailant’s intent to commit a serious crime must be clear at the time. A homicide performed out of vengeance, or retribution for action in the past would generally not be considered justifiable.

    In cases of self-defense, the defendant should generally obey a duty to retreat if it is possible to do so (except from one’s home or place of business). In the states of Florida and Louisiana, there is no duty to retreat.”

    It would seem that way in Mayo also.

  • Crataegus

    These cases are difficult because the circumstances vary, but that said I have always been of the opinion that too much consideration is given to the person breaking in. If for example, you climb through a window in the dead of night you are placing yourself in the twilight zone.

    You have to imagine yourself as the person being robbed or threatened, you really don’t know who all is involved nor do you know who they are. Rightly or wrongly you would feel quite vulnerable.

    Imagine for one moment you are lying in bed at night and you hear someone in your house how exactly do you think you would react? Would you turn on the lights and say, “steady on old boy what do you think you’re about.” Of course not, you would be wondering if there are one, two or three of them or are they armed, where are the children etc. In your mind you would be imagining their weaponry, even a kitchen knife could cause you grief. You would be imagining the most horrendous things for you have no idea who they are or what sort of physiological disposition they have. They could be utter sadistic psychopaths. They may rape your daughter or torture you. Your heart rate would be through the roof, adrenalin in the stratosphere and you would definitely not be acting in a manner characteristic to your normal behaviour, for you are already in shock mode. So if you let loose with a shot gun are you really thinking rationally, NO! Some people when they are in such a situation will repeatedly shot someone as they are in auto pilot and completely out of their senses. The mind in a strange thing and in such circumstances it really does play tricks?

    Imagine you were an elderly person living in the country, say around Crumlin and someone broke in, would you shoot them if you could? Would you try to ascertain their intentions first? Would you try to run?

    We underestimate just how serious a crime burglary actually is especially for the elderly. It causes lasting damage for many people.

    This is the sort of area where legal concepts like reasonable force really don’t have any bearing in reality. For me reasonable force is whatever force is necessary (or at hand) to ensure no one harms you, but it is not as though you have much choice in the matter nor time to think and prepare a measured and reasonable response. Depending on your own make up you either, run, try to hide or get away or let loose with whatever you have for in a few seconds you could be in serious trouble. Why be pious, sanctimonious or holier than though, given this type of circumstance I for one would be loathe to find anyone guilty. Any of us could find ourselves in a position where we rightly or wrongly fear for our lives and do something we regret, but what we should ask is did the person set out with the premeditated intention to cause harm.

    I don’t like what he did but I can easily envisage circumstances where I may react similarly.

  • joeCanuck

    crataegus

    if I had a gun (which I don’t) and someone was breaking into my house in the middle of the night, i might certainly use it.
    But, as reported, Mr Ward was shot in the back while walking away.
    It’s just not the same.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Crataegus: “These cases are difficult because the circumstances vary, but that said I have always been of the opinion that too much consideration is given to the person breaking in. If for example, you climb through a window in the dead of night you are placing yourself in the twilight zone. ”

    Unless its your home, its probably asking for trouble. A man’s home should be his castle.

    joeCanuck: “But, as reported, Mr Ward was shot in the back while walking away.
    It’s just not the same. ”

    Actually, the stories say he was shot a second time, not that he was shot in the back. I can’t imagine the press not explicitly expressing such a lurid point, particularly given the tone of editorials I read the end of last month.

  • páid

    I’m with Rory, it’s a difficult one.
    Nally was apparently plagued by Ward, robbing him time and again.

    But when secure O’Crat says Good riddance, thief it’s too strong. Go to jail, thief in my book.

    Now the guards could have responded professionally with patrols, cameras etc.

    But hey. there are sites to be swung, rent to be collected, divorcees to be rode etc.

  • Donnacha

    Well from the posting, Ward was no longer on the property and was heading away from it. This means that Nally had to follow him to shoot him again, which suggests a level of premeditation. I don’t actually blame him for shooting him, to be honest, but I can’t work out why the jury was so split.

  • Crataegus

    Joe

    As I said I think that once in that sort of situation, how people respond once the adrenalin starts pumping can be very strange. I have seen people literally going into auto pilot, it takes a while for them to stop and realise the danger has passed and an exceedingly long time to settle down. Some people never fully recover from a sever shock. I have seen too many people who have suffered due to appalling crimes committed during the ‘troubles’ and many of them are never really the same after a serious incident. It is as though their brains chemistry has been permanently altered.

    It is similar to situations portrayed in war films where someone continually shots someone who is already dead. It does happen just as others just freeze and can do nothing. It depends on your own make up, your thresholds and how much stress you are under. If you are really stressed out something that another would regard as a mere nuisance can send you right into the legion of the dammed. We all do it in a minor way, bad day at work and everyone sets it at home for even the most minor of things. A colleague of mine had a period of extreme problems with some local organised riff raff, believe me I fully understand how some people can be driven over the edge. Send family to England, live in different houses, check under the car, don’t answer the door unless the person phones in etc etc. A few years of living like that and anything is possible! So if you suffer continual bother you are eventually likely to erupt.

    I am not a psychiatrist but I have seen enough to believe that many of us cease to be rational when threatened. Certainly if any medical types could cast some light on this I for one would be very interested to know exactly why.

  • joeCanuck

    Dread,
    See comment #11; he had to have been shot in the back, or, at least in the side.

    Crataegus,
    As you say, we probably have all lost it from time to time. But, it’s no excuse for killing. Presumably that’s why he was charged with manslaughter rather than murder (which could have been a legitimate charge given the reported “facts”).

  • Dread Cthulhu

    joeCanuck: “See comment #11; he had to have been shot in the back, or, at least in the side. ”

    Does it? Ward could have turned to utter a threat, turned in reaction to Nally’s presence, or any one of a number of other things — you weren’t there, I wasn’t there — we don’t know.

    If it was a local jury, I can see how it was split — the Traveller who was shot had, what, 80 convictions? Any of them for “aggressive” crimes?

  • joeCanuck

    Well Dread,
    I guess he had it coming then.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    joeCanuck: “I guess he had it coming then. ”

    I don’t know that, either — I was asking a question. Eighty convictions does seem to suggest a career criminal, although without an accounting of those convictions, he may simply be the repeated victim of anti-Traveller sentiment. Likewise, Ward had some fight in him, wresting the shotgun from Nally as he did after the first shot. Too many unknowns to make a judgement or seriously question the jury, who would have more complete information than the assumptions and second-hand versions we punters have on this thread.

    That said, it seems a little strange that a body is obligated to vacate one’s home so that passing strangers can loot the place at their leisure and in safety (the requirement for home-owners to retreat). It sounds almost as if the criminals have more rights than the law-abiding citizens they prey upon.

  • joeCanuck

    Dread,

    Once again we’re at an impasse. As you say, neither of us was there or sat through the trial so we’re both second guessing. Probably not the best basis for a debate.
    I think we’ll probably have more debates in the future.
    Best regards,
    Joe

  • Crataegus

    Joe

    If you are under very serious threat, or believe you are, some will react in a way that is more than just losing it! The greater the threat, perceived or real, often the greater the irrationality of the response. It is some sub conscious defence mechanism that kicks in. I have seen it happen, and don’t pretend to understand it. For example in Beirut, utterly bad situation, and a young woman flipped and ran straight down the middle of a street in an area where there was a fair bit of fire. I didn’t see anyone shot her and hopefully she made it. I have no idea why she did it, perhaps just totally worried about her children, her mother or family, who knows but something pushed her to behave in a manner that was suicidal and totally irrational, she crossed a mental threshold. It must have been a complete white out. No thinking person would have done what she did. This is not dissimilar to someone shooting someone who is no longer a threat. The only way I can describe it is people going into auto pilot, the sub conscious takes over, they are not rational or thinking.

    In my declining years I have come to a point where I detest war and violence. For me violence simply creates more problems than it solves and should be avoided where possible. If you harass and attack someone and do it over and over as likely as not eventually you will get a response that you may not want. Even the most peaceful may react eventually and often the less violent and timid will respond with more aggression when they have reached their limit. I think it happens because they have reached their limit whereas a more confident person would respond much sooner and well before they are at breaking point.

    Big difference between this and say someone walking into a school and starting to shoot all that move or an armed robbery or similar case where people go out with the clear intent of causing damage. This farmer would probably not have hurt anyone if these people had left him alone.

  • joeCanuck

    I understand that Crataegus.

    BTW, if you and Dread are in Ireland/Northern Ireland, What the hell are you guys doing up at this hour of the morning?
    Unless you are both sheep stealers taking a break.
    ;o)

  • Brian Boru

    A fine decision for the law-abiding majority. This Traveller was a serial offender with around 22 convictions against him. He was up to no good that’s why he was trying to get into Nally’s house.

  • Bemused

    Great decision – maybe this will make thieving vermin think twice in future. As for Ward – good riddance – this country is better off without him.

  • Dr Strangelove

    “shot twice with a single barrel shotgun and beaten with a stick” – Nice touch, beating him with a stick as well as pumping him full of lead.

  • Crataegus

    Joe

    Have been updating and working on files back on base server, writing and sending out trivia to give the impression that I am on top of it even if in far off pastures and in moments of utter tedium had a look at Slugger. Seriously tedious business plan = increased interest in blogging!!! Sucking custard through a straw would be better than what I’m currently involved in. Anyway looks like a fine evening on the Swan River, wish I had more free time to look around properly.

  • Secur O’Crat

    Read the papers. These “travellers” instituted a reign of terror on people living alone. One of them got his desserts; no loss. Have a look at the gangland killings in Dublin and Limerick; in Dublin they shot a potential witness. Time for a dirty war on these people.

  • carnhill

    So Irelands now the type of country where ye can’t even go around breaking into peoples houses without the threat of bein shot ! And this is a bad thing how exactly ?

  • David Duke

    Brian Boru, Bemused and Carnhill

    I might be able to find you boyos a job over here in Louisiana.

  • Dec

    Brian, Bemused, Carnhill et al

    Why not campaign for the re-introduction of the Black Act? At least for ‘thievin Gypos to start with…after that we can move on to the Eastern Europeans.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Dec: “Why not campaign for the re-introduction of the Black Act? At least for ‘thievin Gypos to start with…after that we can move on to the Eastern Europeans.”

    As compared to the current system, Dec? It seems a little strange that a body is obligated to vacate one’s home so that passing strangers can loot the place at their leisure and in safety (the requirement for home-owners to retreat). It sounds almost as if the criminals have more rights than the law-abiding citizens they prey upon.

  • JG

    Attempting to attack a police officer with farming implements should only be excused when the attacker is a member of theorange order.

  • Paul

    I’m not sure citydwellers understand the level of fear engendered by the wave of rural burglaries in parts of the west. The people targetted are usually elderly people living alone, violence and torture is not unknown and the repeated targetting of houses, as in the Ward case, is fairly common, i.e. they find a “soft touch” and treat it like an ATM. The people engaging in these acts are career criminals, sociopaths with absolutely no regard for anything beyond their immediate needs. It’s got nothing to do with “anti-traveller sentiments.” People who make robbing and terrorising elderly people their career deserve to be shot.

  • Dec

    Dread

    I’m all for householders defending their property, however I’m not sure shooting a man, then striking him over the head 20 times before finally dispatching him with a close-range shotgun blast as he staggers away constitutes reasonable force. I’m also fairly uncomfortable with the repeated reference to travellers by most on this thread, as if this were one of his previous convictions. Would Nally be at liberty tonight if Mr Ward was not a traveller?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Dec: “I’m all for householders defending their property, however I’m not sure shooting a man, then striking him over the head 20 times before finally dispatching him with a close-range shotgun blast as he staggers away constitutes reasonable force.”

    Ward was feisty enough to wrest the shotgun from the farmer, leading to the bout with the stick, Dec. As for the last, I can only imagine that there was some exculpatory evidence, else why find him not guilty? Likewise, were Ward actually shot in the back, I would think that the press would have made great hay with that lurid tid-bit.

    Dec: “I’m also fairly uncomfortable with the repeated reference to travellers by most on this thread, as if this were one of his previous convictions. Would Nally be at liberty tonight if Mr Ward was not a traveller? :

    If ifs and ands were pots and pans, Dec. Ward *was* a Traveller with numerous criminal convictions, caught in the act of burglery in the midst of what the locals were referring to as a “crime spree” perpetrated by the Travellers in the area. You cannot divorce the actual facts and circumstances of the incident, Dec. It is an accurate description. Likewise, seeing as the Travellers are seeking minority status and the political protections that status affords, are you suggesting that the appellation should be something they can bring up and put down, whichever the greater benefit given the circumstances? That they be able to be Travellers only when it suits them or benefits them in some fashion?

  • Dec

    Dread

    Likewise, seeing as the Travellers are seeking minority status and the political protections that status affords, are you suggesting that the appellation should be something they can bring up and put down, whichever the greater benefit given the circumstances?

    I believe travellers are also human beings. I also believe that in a manslaughter trial the victims ethnicity is irrelevant.

    Here’s a quote from Brian Boru:

    This Traveller was a serial offender with around 22 convictions against him.

    Perhaps he (or you) could explain the prominence given to the word ‘Traveller’ in this sentence. Why not say ‘This man’. If Mr Ward was black or Asian would he have used a similar phrasing. Somehow, I doubt it.

  • John Stokes

    This is utter tosh.
    The word “Traveller” has been used as some sort of approbation numerous times on this thread.
    Travellers have no more right to commit crimes that any other citizen but they should also be free from denigration and receive the same justice as everyone else.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Dec: “I believe travellers are also human beings. I also believe that in a manslaughter trial the victims ethnicity is irrelevant.”

    That depends on the facts and circumstances — were this a racially motivated crime, would you be so quick to demand that the victim’s race not be mentioned? Is ony the prosecution allowed to make the victim’s racial or ethic background an issue at trial?

    As was noted elsewhere, the Travellers in and around the area where this crime occurred were on something of a crime spree, targetting those who lived alone. Do not the actions of an identifiable group matter when the conflict in the docket involves a member of that group in the act of committing his portion of said crime spree?

    Dec: “Here’s a quote from Brian Boru: ”

    take it up with Brian — I can’t imagine what was going through his mind, it not being mine own.

    Dec: “Perhaps he (or you) could explain the prominence given to the word ‘Traveller’ in this sentence. Why not say ‘This man’. If Mr Ward was black or Asian would he have used a similar phrasing. Somehow, I doubt it. ”

    As I said, you would have to take it up with Brian — his words, his thoughts. Although, from a simple, matter-of-fact perspective, it is not entirely accurate — the Traveller in question had 80 or so convictions, not 22, leastwise if George has his facts right. I am given to understand the Travellers have something of a reputation and thieves and bunco artists, to borrow the older term. It may be that the term is prejudicial, but, given the victim’s conviction record, in this case, the stereotype would appear to be warranted.

  • malcolm

    It’s really quite simple.
    People of a darkish hue are, by nature, more inclined to be badasses.
    That’s the reason why black americans, who comprise about 13% of the population, comprise 44% of the prison population
    Similarly, Hispanics are about 7 1/2 % of the general population but comprise 19% of the prison population.

  • dec

    Dread

    That depends on the facts and circumstances—were this a racially motivated crime, would you be so quick to demand that the victim’s race not be mentioned? Is ony the prosecution allowed to make the victim’s racial or ethic background an issue at trial?

    Was this a racially motivated crime? No. It would also be a first in a modern democracy if a victims race or ethnicity was raised to blacken their name or reputation.

    As was noted elsewhere, the Travellers in and around the area where this crime occurred were on something of a crime spree, targetting those who lived alone. I am given to understand the Travellers have something of a reputation and thieves and bunco artists, to borrow the older term. It may be that the term is prejudicial, but, given the victim’s conviction record, in this case, the stereotype would appear to be warranted.

    No need to respond to that garbage.

  • Rory

    It is also a well known fact that people named Malcolm, rather than deal with the real world, like to use a form of ironical quotation of statistics to show how liberal they are. Guys named Malcolm who try to put their ideas to the test in Tottenham do ot last very long.

    The last one, against better advice, chose to walk through a gang of young black teenagers crowding the pavement just after dusk with a big nervous smile on his whitebread face saying, “Hi, excuse me”.

    We do not see Malcolm any more and my older Jamaican buddies think that is just a shame because he “really was a nice guy for a honky. But, man, he was some fool him.”

  • joeCanuck

    As I slight aside, (you’re probably not going to believe this folks), but about 15 or 20 years ago, someone in the USA (even maybe a senator) proposed that all the “good” guys in society be armed and that all banks, stores etc be connected to a central alarm system.
    When the alarm button was pushed, neighourhood sirens would go off and everyone would have to stop in their tracks until the police arrived. Anyone who didn’t stop could then be legally shot by one of the good guys on the presumption that it was the criminal fleeing the scene.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Dec: “Was this a racially motivated crime? No. It would also be a first in a modern democracy if a victims race or ethnicity was raised to blacken their name or reputation. ”

    That’s simply naive, especially given the history of Ireland, unless you are defining “modern” in a exceedingly narrow scope.

    Dec: “What all of them were? Or are you just making sweeping generalisations about a large group of people none of whom you actually know or have had dealings with. ”

    Um, actually, I was referring to the information that George included in the original post — you did *READ* the original post, did you not?

    Dec: “No need to respond to that garbage. ”

    No need or no credible response? Stereotypes may not always be nice or fair, Dec, but the arise for a reason and almost always have at least kernel of truth at their core.

    At the rate you’re going, next you’ll be telling us that Ward was simply lost and disoriented and that his 80 convictions were all just a case of “the man” coming down on him.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    joeCanuck: “When the alarm button was pushed, neighourhood sirens would go off and everyone would have to stop in their tracks until the police arrived. Anyone who didn’t stop could then be legally shot by one of the good guys on the presumption that it was the criminal fleeing the scene. ”

    As opposed to the Canadian plan, which I have no doubt was that at the push of a button, an alarm would sound and all the citizens would empty their pockets into pillowcases, place them on the front step so that the criminals collect them. As a further measure, citizens were suggested to retreat to the basement and cower there until the next alarm, so that the criminals might collect their swag in both safety and anonymity.

  • joeCanuck

    No Dread
    We don’t have any spare cash. The government takes it all.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    joeCanuck: “We don’t have any spare cash. The government takes it all. ”

    Unless, of course, you work in advertising…

  • joeCanuck

    that’s naughty and well informed..
    those guys are in jail now

  • Dread Cthulhu

    joeCanuck: “that’s naughty and well informed..
    those guys are in jail now ”

    Just b/c we don’t agree or live in the same country doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention… 😉

    Besides, one of my pals is from one of the western provinces… makes for a great back-stop for Candian news — if I miss it and its outrage-worthy, he’s more than willing to share.

  • Betty Boo

    In a perfect society no one with 80 convictions would be about and around to commit some more. And the mentioned amount are only offences he was convicted for, not taking in account the one’s he wasn’t.
    It seems negligent beyond grasp, that anyone is left exposed to such terror.

  • Colonel Sanders

    I wonder if there is a coincidence here. My Irish operations have lost (had stolen?) 80 chickens over the past 40 years, one every easter and one every christmas.

  • Donegal-John

    There were several warrants out for Wards Arrest, and had the Irish Police being their job, he would have been behind bars.

    The Irish police are afraid of the travellers, so who is meant to protect us.

    Try walking into a traveller halting site and stealing their property, you won’t get out alive.

  • joeCanuck

    If you prick me, do I not bleed?

  • William

    Even if Mr. Ward had slaughtered a busload of children, the courts could not have sentenced him to death. So why should Mr. Nally be allowed to administer such a punishment?

    The trauma experienced by vulnerable people, such as the elderly in rural areas, should never be underestimated. However, murdering someone (and in my opinion, fatally shooting a person in the back when there is no imminent threat of death or serious injury to you or someone in the immeidate vicinity, is murder) is not the solution. Proper security measures and policing are just two of the measures required. Risks and danger can never be eliminated, only reduced. Irish society has not met that challenge.

    To look ahead, what will this decision mean? In all probability, people like Mr. Ward will, in future, be armed and will, when entering a home they intend to burgle, expect to meet aggressive resistance. They will therefore be more likely to kill anyone they encounter. The householder, fearing this, is likely to be equally prepared to use lethal force. A circle of violence will ensue. Be afraid.

  • joeCanuck

    That’s a very valid point William.
    I can remember about a handful of similar cases over here since I immigrated.
    In each case the shooter was charged with murder and the prosecution stressed that , if you allow people to take the law into their own hands, where will it all end. Although charged with murder the perpetrators were usually found guilty of the lesser and included charge of manslaughter due to the extenuating circumstances. A typical sentence would have been around 3 years incarceration.

  • Rory

    “Be afraid” says William.

    And indeed I am. I am very fearful indeed of such thinking as William has offered.

    If we follow his thinking through then the crime was the defendant’s failure to kill or completely disable Ward with the first shot. A lack of murderous resolve at that moment, argues William, then makes all that followed capable of being construed as indefensible.

    Then he tells us that those who defend themselves are somehow to blame for future thugs escalating thier violence. Which of course is simply madness. A Buddhist monk would laugh that argument out of court and pass you a video of old episodes of “Kung Fu” and wisely say, “For enlightenment, butterfly, study this. David Carradine number one guy”.

    My reading of the case, insofar as has been provided here, is that the state was pushing the jury to convict and that the judge would then sentence leniently but that a majority of the jury, at least, said, ” Bollocks! I don’t care what the law says, I know what I would have done in the same circumstances” and voted to acquit.
    Such is known as a perverse judgement in law and such “perverse judgements” are often the citizen’s only recourse and defence against the stupidity of law.

    I think I would probably have voted with the majority but I can’t say. I wasn’t in court.

  • Secur O’Crat

    William: Ward was a legitimate target. The Traveller ASUs have already killed people. It is time to take the war to them and to the immigrant hitmen and indiginous drug dealers. These social terrorists understand nothing but a bullet behind the ear. Take all and give nothing is their motto. It is a pity that, as human beings, their demise will be lamented. But the teror campaigns have to end. How many dead bodies of settled travellers would take the sting out of Limerick?
    The drug problem is augmented by all the middle class hand ringers whose hedonism gives the markets the pushers north and south thrive on so that is a problem. The immigrant scum tarnish the names of the 99.9% others. But a society has a right to defend itself against the feral.

  • Rory

    Jesus, Secur O’Crat! What bible have you been reading – the memoirs of Michael Stone ?

    If a sudden spate of traveller murders erupts don’t be surprised to find yourself in the frame.

    Whatever strong feelings you may harbour, such inflammatory talk could have you accused of incitement. Besides which it is abominably ugly and besmirches the site.

  • Fintan, Portlaoise

    I wish Mr. Nally well and hope he soon recovers from the trauma that he has been through. One thing that he has going for him in that respect is his neighbours, who have given him so much support and kindness.

    I believe the verdict is fair. It is clear that he was living in the kind of fear that so many other people living alone in rural Ireland have to endure. I am one of them, older than Mr. Nally in fact, and I too have had my home violated, burgled, ransacked, even my central heating unit disconnected and taken, leaving 400 litres of kerosene sloshing over the shed floor. The perpetrators were never caught, “probably travelling criminals,” shrugged a Garda.

    Five years ago, not far from here in Edenderry, two old men in their 80s were brutally beaten in their home while listening to a GAA match on the radio. The two brutes who tortured them escaped with €50 and one of the victims, Patrick Logan, died. I too fear that one day (or night) it will be my turn. It makes no difference whether the perpetrators are Travellers or not, and the murderers of Patrick Logan were not.

    The front door of my house is just behind a gate near the road. I have no back door, but there is a shed at the back of my house. If I do not answer the door, people who know me often walk around the back of the house, but calling my name or saying, loudly, “hello, anyone home.” That is the right way to do things.

    Mr. Nally was in a state of fear, bordering on paranoia i should think. He must have gotten into a total panic when he found two men at his back door. It was a situation that could just as well have resulted in his own death. What if he had lost his nerve and one of them had managed to get hold of the shotgun? I am astonished that the surviving son of Mr. ward was not charged with any offence. Surely there is still a law against loitering with intent or something like that.

    Rather than moan and groan about there being one law for Travellers and another for the Country People, it might be much more useful to organise a programme to make law-abiding Travellers understand that people in rural Ireland are living in fear against a background of murder, assault and robbery committed by mobile criminals from outside their areas. Even if only a small proportion of Travellers are criminals and the vast majority are decent law-abiding citizens, people living alone in the country cannot know to which category the three fellows in the Hi-Ace van belong, especially when one of them has walked around the back of the house, one is ringing the bell and another is sitting in the van – a recent scenario in my case. I didn’t open the door and they soon left. It is essential to make Travellers and anyone else going around behind a stranger’s house understand that this worries or even scares many people.

    Mr. Nally did not leave his home are to go in search of trouble. Trouble came to him in the form of a man with a long criminal record, who was under the influence of an illegal drug, and that man’s son, a big burly fellow whom I wouldn’t like to cross. If they had had any legitimate busines with Mr. Nally, the right thing to do would have been to knock at his front door and leave if they got no answer.

    It is a pity for Mr. Ward’s family, but he brought his own demise upon himself.

  • joeCanuck

    Finally a bit of context.
    Thanks for sharing that Fintan.
    How quickly would or could the gardai respond to a mobile phone call for assistance?
    I hope you are left alone.

  • William

    Rory

    I did not say that Mr. Nally’s crime (if any) was a failure to “finish off” Mr. Ward with the first shot. What I was saying was that, after the first shot and beating, Mr. Ward was leaving the premises. The question to be answered is whether, at that time, Mr. Ward represented such a real and immediate threat to the life of Mr. Nally or another person in the immediate vicinity, such that Mr. Nally was justified in using lethal force against him. I have my doubts, but the jury apparently thought that he was justified. As you rightly point out, theirs is the opinion that matters.

    As regards blaming people for an escalation of violence by others: I am not blaming householders. The primary blame for any wrong lies with the author of that wrong. I am merely pointing out the likely consequences of their actions. If a burglar knows he can be shot with impunity, he will go prepared. The same logic is one of the main reasons why the Gardai are still unarmed. This view is corroborated, albeit anecdotally, by Joe Canuck’s Canadian experience. As regards Buddhism and David Carradine, I haven’t a rashers what you’re on about.

    Fintan’s insight is pure gold. It is unfair that people like him live in fear, but the real response has to come from the State (through protective and punitive measures). His obvious decency and common sense may well help him, but cannot protect against a determined criminal.

    William

  • Rory

    William,

    The jury concluded that, in Mr Nally’s mind at the time, Ward did indeed continue to represent a threat to his well being and probably very life itself. The evidence that Ward had been a persistent invader in the past and might likely return to seek revenge might well have been assumed by the jury to be a strong factor in Nally’s demeanour at that moment and on the details of evidence I have seen that would seem a reasonable assumption.

    I take your well intentioned point of the dangers of escalation but then you must answer the too well grounded fears of those constantly under threat. What would you have them do? A pious hope that the agencies of state protection will somehow become more proactive flies in the face of experience. There is also the consideration that surely must be entertained, not alone by me, that if rapacious thugs by terrorising those still hoping to live out their days in their own homeland and harry them out then that will ease the passage of those, who might be closer to government influence, to further their potentially lucrative development plans for the land.

    But of course that is ridiculous conspiracy theory thinking and it could never happen in Ireland. Gay Byrne would never allow it.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    If you want to attack people and break into their houses you deserve what you get whether climbing or running away afterwards.

    If it happened to a few more people there would be a lot less theiving etc.

    In fact everyone who breaks into an OAP’s home should be shot on site (sight) no questions asked.

    Look at Saudia Arabia for example they know how to treat criminals.

  • joeCanuck

    Shooting them all seems a bit extreme FD.

    But from what I have read over the years, elderly people on both sides of the border in Ireland (other places too?) have been subjected to extreme terror and injury, often over a few measly pounds/euros and I do believe that the perpetrators should be liable to very harsh sentences.

  • joeCanuck

    And btw, if you look at the totality of Saudi society, unless you’re a member of the Royal family, you probably wouldn’t want to live there.

  • John

    When you terrorise a man for long enough hes liable to do something about it.Theres many others in Mayo prepared to do the same to scum who think that we are fair game to rob.Good riddance to bad rubbish…

  • joeCanuck

    I’ve never experienced such bitterness coming from a land of “Saints and Scholars).

  • Dread Cthulhu

    I would posit, given the lack of risk the burglars face encourages the burglars — “hot” burglaries — those that occur with the residents of the domus in situ, are encouraged by the disarmament and social conditioning of the public at large — they are denied the means to defend themselves and the act of defense itself is derided.

    joeCanuck: “How quickly would or could the gardai respond to a mobile phone call for assistance? ”

    The police are under no legal obligation to protect any given individual citizen, unless they have entered into a “special” relationship prior to the criminal event, so there is no recourse against the police in the event of a violent burglary. “To serve and protect,” along with the other police mottos, are hollow words without meaning.

    si vis pachem parabellum is a much more rational motto.

  • joeCanuck

    “pacem” Dread.
    I didn’t ask about legal obligation.
    I just wondered out loud as to what protection the gardai could offer while a person felt under siege.
    I abhor as much as anyone (I hope) the terror isolated senior citizens undergo.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    joeCanuck: “I just wondered out loud as to what protection the gardai could offer while a person felt under siege. ”

    And I was comment on how little they are obligated to offer. As for what they actually offer, the fact that Mr. Ward had accumulated 80 convictions and that the people there live in terror should give you a hint. Likewise, I seem to recall a tourism related thread on Slugger in which it took the Gardai ~30 minutes to make the five minute walk from their station to the tourist center being trashed by a group of city youth, the Gardai spokesman saying that represented a reasonably good response time.

    How much damage do you think two burglers could do to a body in that amount of time?

  • joeCanuck

    A lot Dread.
    I was just curious.
    It’s now less than 2 hours from my 59th birthday and my wife persuaded me a few years ago(at the time of her birthday curiously) to have a birth week rather than a birth day.
    So i’ve been pre-celebrating with a bottle of Gator Negro (a great Chilean wine) so I really can’t have a sensible discussion.
    Chat later,
    Regards, Joe

  • crataegus

    joe

    Have a happy 59th and hopefully many many more

  • POL

    It is a pity for Mr. Ward’s family, but he brought his own demise upon himself.

    And theres me thinking a shotgun and a very irate man played the major role in his death.

  • joeCanuck

    Thanks Crataegus

  • Dread Cthulhu

    joeCanuck: “It’s now less than 2 hours from my 59th birthday and my wife persuaded me a few years ago(at the time of her birthday curiously) to have a birth week rather than a birth day.
    So i’ve been pre-celebrating with a bottle of Gator Negro (a great Chilean wine) so I really can’t have a sensible discussion. ”

    Fai enought — many happy returns…

  • Donnacha

    Joe Canuck, I sincerely hope it’s Gato (not Gator) Negro….otherwise I wouldn’t be making any plans for your 60th!

  • Stephen

    How come there was no interest in the acquital of the killers of Thomas ‘Deuce’ Ward in December 2004? Could it be because if a princess kissed him he might not turn into a prince but could only represent twelve other cards?