A man accused of murdering his 25-year-old friend by stabbing him in the neck after a row over a stolen scooter has been found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter by a jury at the Central Criminal Court.
The panel of six men and six women unanimously rejected the prosecution’s case that John Titiloye was guilty of murder and that he intentionally stabbed Ademola Giwa in the neck, intending to kill or cause serious injury.
Following Wednesday’s verdict, Mr Justice Paul McDermott thanked the jury for the close attention and careful consideration they had given to every aspect of the case. He exempted them from jury service for the next five years.
Opening the murder case to the jury last week, prosecution barrister John Byrne SC said in the course of an argument Titiloye produced a knife and stabbed Mr Giwa in the neck.
The 12 jurors were also told it was the defendant’s position that he was in possession of a knife for self-defence and, having initially walked away from the altercation, he returned to protect his father, who sustained a stab type injury to the eye.
It was the defence’s contention that the case was “as far away as one could get” from a cold-blooded killing and was a reaction by the defendant, who had acted in defence of his father.
Titiloye told gardaí in his interviews that he had been walking away from the scene when he saw Mr Giwa hit his father Anthony several times in the face with a knuckle duster and had run back to the altercation to defend him.
Defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, with John Griffin BL, asked for an outright acquittal or a verdict of manslaughter on the basis of self-defence, or the partial defence of provocation, which can reduce an intentional killing from murder to manslaughter.
Mr Grehan said in his closing speech that his client had not gone out looking for trouble but that “trouble had arrived at his doorstep”, adding Titiloye had been “dragged into something not of his own making”.
He said while Titiloye may have acted in a primal fashion when he fatally stabbed Mr Giwa, he did so to protect his father. He added that witnesses had heard Titiloye say “daddy” or “not my daddy” when the fight broke out.
The barrister explained that, if someone does a provocative act to somebody which causes the person to temporarily lose their self-restraint and complete control that they are not master of their own mind, then in those circumstances the law recognises human frailty. The partial defence can reduce an intentional killing from murder to manslaughter.
In his charge to the jury, Mr Justice McDermott said that when considering provocation they would have to consider whether there was such an overwhelming loss of self-control by Titiloye, which was so sudden and immediate that the accused could not prevent himself from committing the act.
The judge said it was the defence’s contention that Titiloye was provoked when he saw his father being attacked by Mr Giwa down the road as the accused was moving away from the area. “Is there credible evidence to give rise to that in your assessment?” the judge asked.
Mr Justice McDermott said there were three pathways to the verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter because of absence of intent, the partial defence of self-defence, or the partial defence of provocation.
The jury had the option of returning three verdicts in relation to the murder charge against Titiloye, namely; guilty of murder, not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter, or not guilty.
Eyewitness Samson Fayemi (26) had told the trial that he owed a small sum of money to Titiloye which had become “a source of tension” within their friendship and that Mr Fayemi’s scooter was forcibly taken by a number of men including the defendant “to settle the debt” on August 9th, the day prior to the killing, at Marlfield Estate in Tallaght.
Mr Fayemi and Mr Giwa then called to Titiloye’s home at Mac Uilliam Crescent at 6.45pm the following day and a physical altercation broke out, in which Anthony Titiloye, the defendant’s father, had involved himself.
‘I’m the man you want’
A pathologist gave evidence that Mr Giwa died after sustaining a stab wound to the neck which cut his jugular vein and damaged a lung, resulting in “devastating consequences”.
Titiloye, who had purchased a knife in an angling and shooting shop in Lucan on the afternoon of August 10th, told the garda who arrested him: “I killed him, I’m the man” and “I’m the man you want”.
The 12 jurors rejected the State’s case that Titiloye intentionally stabbed Mr Giwa in the neck, intending to kill or cause serious injury to him.
In the State’s closing speech, prosecution counsel John Byrne SC asked the jury to consider whether a lesser degree of force from Titiloye might have been a more measured and appropriate response and asked them to find the defendant guilty of murder.
John Titiloye (28), with an address at Mac Uilliam Crescent, Fortunestown, Tallaght, Dublin 24, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Ademola ‘Dizzy’ Giwa (25) in the Mac Uilliam Road area in Tallaght on August 10th, 2021. Mr Giwa was from Mac Uilliam Parade in the same area.
The jury found Titiloye not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter by unanimous verdict after four hours and 55 minutes of deliberations.
Mr Grehan told the judge his client had been in custody since the date of his arrest and had never applied for bail.
The judge asked Mr Byrne about Titiloye’s previous convictions and the prosecutor said they were of a “relatively minor nature”.
Mr Justice McDermott adjourned sentencing until July 17th and remanded Titiloye in custody until that date, when a victim impact statement will be before the court. The judge also directed a probation report be prepared.
When the jury left the courtroom, the judge said he wanted to express the court’s appreciation to both sides for the efficient manner in which the case had been conducted.