A verdict of ‘homicide’ was returned by a jury today at an inquest into the death of a 67-year-old man shot dead by a friend who feared he was an intruder.
Brendan Kilduff, Sallyhernaun, Knock, Co. Mayo, was fatally wounded when Martin Caulfield (85), Coogue, Aghamore, Co. Mayo, discharged a double barreled shotgun a number of times through the glass panels of his bungalow door.
The tragic incident occurred just before midnight on September 19, 2019, when Mr. Kilduff, a farmer (former mechanic) went to visit Mr. Caulfield.
The deceased was wearing a headlight at the time, a habit to which he had become accustomed.
According to evidence given to today’s inquests, three gunshots were discharged through the door.
Mr. Kilduff managed to return to his car which was parked by the roadside. He drove a short distance before collapsing.
Giving evidence via video to today’s hearing at Castlebar Courthouse, the Chief State Pathologist, Dr. Linda Mulligan said there was a cluster of pellet wounds concentrated on the chest with occasional stray pellet pellets in the right and left upper arm, neck and lower face,
The gunshot wounds had involved the internal organs including the heart and were directly responsible for death.
Dr. Mulligan gave the cause of death as shotgun wounds to the torso.
At today’s hearing, John Brady, solicitor (representing Mr. Kilduff’s relatives) said a decision of the DPP not to prosecute in the matter had been “a difficult realisation for my clients”.
Mr. Brady said it would have been easier for the jury to make a determination in the case if they had access to all the technical information gathered by gardai but unfortunately that information was not available as all the gardai involved in the investigation had not been called as witnesses.
Mr. Brady told the jury that a verdict of ‘unlawful killing” would be the most relevant verdict for them to deliver.
The Coroner for Mayo, Pat O’Connor said evidence had been given to the hearing by 13 witnesses. There could have been 45 witnesses, the coroner pointed out, but their evidence would not have been relevant as the purpose of an inquest is solely to establish the facts following a death and make findings on the identification of the deceased, the date and place of death and the cause of death.
Ann Moran (Knock Post Office), one of the witnesses at today’s hearing, said when she last saw Mr. Kilduff on September 17, 2019, he spoke about attending the upcoming National Ploughing Championships and she encouraged him to travel stating ‘life is too short’.
Ms. Moran added that Brendan was “a very chatty and a really lovely character”.
Today’s hearing was again told that Mr. Caulfield is seriously unwell and unable to attend the hearing or provide a statement of evidence.
Following the announcement of the ‘homicide’ verdict, the coroner expressed his deepest sympathy with Mr. KIlduff’s relatives and the wider community on their tragic loss.
Joining in, Detective Supt Joe McKenna offered condolences “on what, he said, “can only be described as a terrible visitation on Brendan Kilduff who was doing what he always did, helping a neighbour”.