A convicted murderer who assaulted a barrister during his trial and conducted his own appeal because he can’t find a lawyer to represent him, has claimed that gardaí planted evidence against him during their investigation.
Vesel Jahiri (42) stabbed Anna Finnegan (25) to death in her own home a month after she had sought refuge at a women’s shelter. Anna had written that Jahiri made her life “hell”, had beaten her and “almost killed her”. They had been together since she was 16 years old.
Jahiri was sentenced to life imprisonment after he was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury of the murder of the mother of his two children at Allendale Glen, Clonsilla, Dublin 15, on September 21st, 2012.
Following the trial in April 2017, jurors also found him guilty of stabbing Anna’s brother Karl Finnegan in the chest and head during the same attack. Jahiri, of no fixed abode and who is serving his time in Cloverhill Prison, had pleaded not guilty to both charges and claimed he stabbed Mr Finnegan in self-defence after he first stabbed him.
It was Jahiri’s second trial for murdering Anna Finnegan after a jury failed to reach a verdict in his first trial in 2014.
The trial had been disrupted after Jahiri, who is originally from Kosovo, assaulted the prosecuting barrister.
At the trial, Jahiri, who had earlier dismissed his legal team to represent himself, leapt across the benches and punched Patrick Marrinan SC in the face before being wrestled to the ground by prison officers and removed from the court.
When the trial resumed, the accused was accompanied by four prison officers dressed in full riot gear as he was brought back into court.
The trial heard that Jahiri had been with Ms Finnegan since she was 16 years old, and they had two children. The relationship with Jahiri ended at the end of August 2012 with Anna moving to Bray Women’s Refuge. A social worker had put a safety plan in place and Mr Finnegan was staying in his sister’s house temporarily for that reason.
Mr Finnegan said he got to his sister’s house at Allendale Glen around 7.30pm on September 21st and Anna then arrived home with her children. The witness testified that he and his sister were sitting at the kitchen table when they heard a “loud bang” as the front door of the house was being forced in. He looked up and saw Vesel coming down the hall with a knife. Anna screamed and stood up from the table.
Mr Finnegan said he picked up a chair to “keep a bit of distance” between him and Vesel, but the chair was then “gone” and he did not know how that happened. Karl Finnegan said he then blacked out and awoke with stab wounds. He said his head was bleeding, but he did not realise at the time that blood was coming from his chest.
He said Vesel and Anna were no longer in the kitchen. He went outside and saw Anna standing in the driveway of the house next door and Vesel was a few feet in front of her. The trial heard that Anna passed out and fell to the ground when they were in front of her house. Vesel then came around the corner in his car, put Anna into the back and drove off.
The court heard Mr Finnegan received two stab wounds, one to his chest and the other to the right side of his head.
CCTV footage showed Jahiri driving his car at speed up to the doors of the Accident and Emergency Department at James Connolly Memorial Hospital at 8.50pm on September 21st. Jahiri lifted Anna out of the back seat of the car and left her on the ground before security personnel arrived and lifted her onto a trolley.
Shortly after, she passed away due to internal bleeding caused by a single stab wound to the chest.
The next day, Jahiri presented himself voluntarily at Cabra Garda Station and removed a black-handled kitchen knife from the pocket of his jacket and placed it on a table. Jahiri told gardaí that he did not stab his former partner and claimed that Anna had tried to prevent the two men from fighting by coming between them.
Jahiri appealed his conviction and claims that gardaí planted knives and a knife-block at a temporary address he was staying at in Lohunda Crescent, Clonsilla. The appellant claims this was done to imply that he had to have brought the knife to the scene of the crime himself to stab Anna, which he denies.
At the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, Jahiri claimed that the trial judge failed to stop the trial and direct that he be found not guilty because he was not allowed to inspect the knife as he was entitled to do. He further claims that the trial judge erred in excluding Jahiri from the latter stages of the trial due to his behaviour and in denying him a closing speech.
Jahiri claims he took the knife off Mr Finnegan after being attacked at Allendale Glen and that Mr Finnegan must have stabbed his sister during the fight.
The 42-year-old also claims that gardaí wiped CCTV from Cabra Garda Station of gardaí allegedly wiping the blade of the knife to remove Mr Finnegan’s fingerprints, to leave only Jahiri’s fingerprints and Anna’s blood remaining.
Jahiri told the three-judge court that had the blade not been wiped, forensics would have revealed Mr Finnegan’s fingerprints underneath some of his. He claimed this would prove that the appellant could have only held the knife after Mr Finnegan and this, submits Jahiri, would prove he could not have brought the knife to Allendale Glen.
The appellant further claims that gardaí then took a knife block, six knives and a meat cleaver from Allendale Glen and planted it at his address so they could link it to the murder weapon as they were the same brand.
“The Constitution says that all are equal before the law and I should not have been stopped to inspect the exhibits,” said Jahiri.
Jahiri submitted that gardaí “hid and tampered with evidence to incriminate” him.
Cathleen Noctor SC, for the State, said that much of the Jahiri’s lengthy submission was “the appellant’s interpretation of the trial and that is a matter for the jury”.
“It has to be said that the appellant, for reasons best known to himself, has given misrepresentations of what happened at the trial,” said Ms Noctor.
Jahiri had claimed that a neighbour’s 999 call had not been played to the jury in the second trial as it had in the first trial but Ms Noctor said that it was not an exhibit in the case under appeal and that Jahiri had cross-examined witnesses about the call at the trial.
Ms Noctor said that when Jahiri’s fifth and final legal team came off record they had told the trial that Jahiri had received all the material in the case.
The barrister said that no application had been made by Jahiri to exclude the knives or any evidence the prosecution had introduced in the trial.
Regarding Jahiri’s claims over his fingerprint being on the murder knife, Ms Noctor said “the jury heard all of it and rejected it”.
Ms Noctor said the CCTV in Cabra Garda Station from 2012 could not have been recovered after three weeks or a month when it deletes itself and there had been no issue over the matter from Jahiri’s legal teams.
“He complains of the failure to have the knives available to him and that he was denied the right to inspect them – the offences were in 2012, the trial was in 2014 and he was represented by five legal teams. Any of them could have made that application,” said Ms Noctor.
“He had photos of all of the knives bar one. What more could have been done? The only thing more that could have been done was to have actually handed the knives to him in person,” said the barrister, who noted that the trial judge refused that request.
Jahiri also claims he had been denied a phone to contact witnesses in the case.
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Ms Noctor said “every assistance” had been given to Jahiri to get his witnesses but he had not provided their details, which the prosecution described as a “ruse” on the defendant’s part.
Jahiri submitted that he had not been properly charged with the crimes and that therefore he had not been “lawfully” brought before the court, which meant his “arrest, trial and conviction is unlawful on both”.
Ms Noctor said Jahiri had been properly charged and properly returned for trial on both matters.
Mr Justice John Edwards said the court would reserve its judgment in the matter.