By Fiona Cooney
Witnesses gave evidence in Court today against John Joe Malone, accused of the murder of 69-year-old Nancy Smith in 1987, claiming he was seen arguing with Mrs Smith the night she was killed and that he said he pushed her and she banged her head.
Jim Curran was a close friend of 53-year-old John Joe Malone and gave evidence today under Mr. Justice Patrick McCarthy in the Central Criminal Court in Dublin in front of a jury of six men and five women.
Curran said that Malone visited him and said that he couldn’t understand how forensics decided that Mrs Smith was strangled, because he had had an argument with her, pushed her and she fell and hit her head off a stone, and later died when he brought her inside the house.
Curran also said that Malone asked him, “If somebody murdered someone, can God forgive them?” and also said “What if this person wasn’t sorry about what they’d done?”
Curran said that he never turned Malone into the police as it would have been “his word against mine and it wouldn’t make any difference”.
Peter Burns also gave evidence today of witnessing an argument on the night of the 10th of September 1987; he saw a man, who he recognised as ‘one of the Malones’, though he wasn’t sure which one, knocking loudly and repetitively on the door of a Bungalow on Wolfe Tone Street, Kilkenny, on his way home.
He saw the lady, who he said looked elderly and sounded elderly, come to the front of the house and shout at and threaten the man, saying “If I had a knife, I would stab you”, he heard from across the road where he was standing, watching the scene.
The woman was also ‘shouting obscenities’ about the man’s sister, calling her a slut.
The man, who had since approached him and asked for a lighter, shouted back incoherently, and then proceeded to try and de-escalate the situation, Burns said in Court and added that he felt this was done because his own presence was noticed.
Burns said the man shouted “Good night, God bless, I’m going home” and walked away from the house, which is why he then walked home himself, presuming he had witnessed a family dispute.
John Joe Malone has pleaded not guilty to strangling Nancy Smith and setting her home on fire.
A man driving by noticed the house on fire at about 5am and Mrs Smith’s body was found, but the cause of death was due to being strangled.
The trial is continuing in Dublin.