Jury begins deliberations in cold case murder trial

53-year-old John Joseph Malone denies strangling Anne Nancy Smyth before setting her home on fire in 1987

The jury in the trial of a man accused of murdering a woman thirty years ago has begun its deliberations.

53-year-old John Joseph Malone of Newpark in Kilkenny City denies strangling Anne Nancy Smyth before setting her home on fire in 1987.

A number of people came forward following a TV reconstruction in 2012 to say he had confessed to her murder.

It took a number of days for Mr. Justice Patrick McCarthy to sum up the evidence for the jury and explain the relevant legal issues.

The trial opened three weeks ago and heard from a large number of civilian and expert witnesses as well as Gardaí who were involved in the original investigation and the one that followed in 2012.

At the time of her death, 69-year-old Nancy Smyth was living on her own in a small detached house on Wolfe Tone St. in Kilkenny city.

Her husband had passed away the year before.

On September 10th 1987, she went to her local pub for a few drinks and the owner dropped her home around midnight.

John Joe Malone was drinking in another pub that night.

A woman called Geraldine Brennan said she saw him banging on Nancy’s door and window at around 12.30.

She described him as “angry and agitated” and told the jury she heard him shouting: “Let me into the f**king house ... I just want to f**king talk to you” and “I’ll f**king get you.”

The fire brigade was called to Nancy’s a few hours later and her body was found on the floor of her living room beside a burning sofa.

A post-mortem revealed she had been beaten and strangled and was already dead when the fire was started.

John Joe Malone was arrested a few days later but was released without charge and the investigation ran into the sand until a woman came forward in 2005 to say he had told her he killed Nancy by accident.

A fresh investigation got underway in 2012 and following the broadcast of a TV reconstruction on Crimecall, Gardaí took statements from several others, including Mr. Malone’s brother Barney, who all claimed he had also confessed to them.

The accused admits being outside Nancy’s house that night and doesn’t deny arguing with her - but insists he never laid a hand on her.

The jury retired just before 12pm this afternoon.