Mother cross-examined in court by man charged with murdering her son

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A mother was cross-examined by the man charged with the murder of her son at the Central Criminal Court on Thursday morning, where she told him she believed another man was involved in the murder.

However, Philip Finnegan’s mother Angela also agreed with prosecution attorney Brendan Grehan SC that the person she was referring to was in Portlaoise prison at the time her son went missing.

Defendant Stephen Penrose has fired his legal team and is now representing himself in his murder trial in the Central Criminal Court.

Opening Mr Penrose’s trial yesterday, Mr Grehan said the beheaded body of Philip Finnegan, 24, was found buried in a shallow grave in the Kildare Woods. The lawyer said Mr Finnegan had “some problems in the past” and started wearing a protective vest.

Philippe Finnegan.

The lawyer also told the jury in his opening speech that attempts had been made to cut up and burn the body of Mr Finnegan, who had been missing for nearly a month and had met a “gruesome death”.

Significantly, the court attorney said, the jury will hear evidence that a bloodied glove was found in the woods, which matched the DNA of the accused, Mr Penrose.

Mr Penrose, 38, of Newtown Court, Malahide Road, Coolock, Dublin 17, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Finnegan, 24, at Rahin Woods, Rahin, Edenderry, Co Kildare on August 10, 2016.

Testifying today, Ms Finnegan told Mr Grehan that she lives at Mary Aikenhead House on James’s Street in Dublin 8 and is a mother of six. Philip was her second eldest child and he was the father of three very young children, she said. She agreed that Philip had “some issues over the years” and befriended Mr Penrose in August 2016.

Ms Finnegan said she briefly met Mr Penrose when he previously called into his apartment.

The witness said she would have been in regular phone contact with her son Philip and that he was “in good shape” when she last saw him around 10:15 am on August 10.

Philip told him that morning that he was going to meet Mr. Penrose. When Mr. Grehan asked her what was the last thing Philip said to her, Ms. Finnegan replied, “I’ll see you later, Mom.”

Ms Finnegan said she briefly met Mr Penrose when he previously called into his apartment. Photo: Shutterstock

She recalled that Philip was wearing a ‘Fila’ top, cream-colored vest, sweatpants and sneakers that morning.

Recalling the events of August 10, Ms Finnegan said she was in contact with her son that morning as he sought access to the Cloverhill courthouse. “I helped him as best I could,” she added.

Ms Finnegan said she had another phone call with Philip later that day and asked him to come home.

The witness said she tried to contact Philip again at 4:40 p.m. but was unsuccessful. “I knew there was something wrong, there was no ringing and I felt the phone was off. I kept trying and trying to call her, ”she said.

Ms Finnegan said she was worried about Philip and never managed to contact him.

When Mr Grehan asked the witness if it would be as if her son did not contact her, she replied, “My God, no Philip and I are very close, he would always contact me.”

Ms Finnegan attended at Kevin Street Garda station the next day at 9 p.m. and reported her son missing.

She agreed with the lawyer that she told the Kevin Street Guard that she rang Philip’s phone at 4:40 p.m., didn’t get an answer, and that she thought he had gone to meet Mr. Penrose the previous morning.

Ms Finnegan attended at Kevin Street Garda station the next day at 9 p.m. and reported her son missing.

In cross-examination, the accused, Mr Penrose, told Ms Finnegan that he apologized for having to question her, but told her that she had spoken to Gardai in her statement of a “scum match” between a named man and his son. Ms. Finnegan told Mr. Penrose she remembered it.

Mr Penrose then read part of Ms Finnegan’s statement, which she gave to Gardai: “[A named man] is a relative of someone from Portlaoise prison who threatened him. A few months later, Philip received a call from this person in Portlaoise prison. I was next to Philip when he got the call. The man just told Philip that he was going to pull it off the map and blow his head off.

Following this, Mr Penrose asked Ms Finnegan if she now believed that [the named man’s] cousin of Portlaoise prison was involved in any way in the murder of Philip. “Yes, I think so,” she replied.

Mr Penrose told the judge that “the whole case is made up of this allegation.”

On re-examination, Mr Grehan asked Ms Finnegan whether the person she was talking about at Portlaoise prison was in Portlaoise prison at the time of her son’s disappearance. “Yes, he was in Portlaoise prison during Philip’s disappearance,” she replied.

The trial continues before Judge Alexander Owens and a jury of eight men and four women. It should last between five and six weeks.


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