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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Murder accused told gardai he punched alleged victim like Bruce Lee, court hears

Published 25/02/2014 | 19:58

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Gardai are investigating the frightening robbery on the Old Cabra Road in Dublin this evening
Anthony Fallon

A Tipperary man accused of murder told investigating gardaí that he punched his alleged victim like Bruce Lee in the martial arts movie Fists of Fury, a court has heard.

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In the Central Criminal Court yesterday, gardaí gave evidence of interviews they conducted with Clonmel man John Hannigan during the investigation into the murder of his friend two years ago.

Mr Hannigan (46) of River House, New Quay has pleaded not guilty to murdering Anthony Fallon in Clonmel on January 28 2012.

He has also pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm on the 46 year-old on the same date at Mr Fallon's flat on Abbey Street in the town.

Detective Sergeant Seamus Maher told the court yesterday that during interviews with gardaí, Mr Hannigan was asked to describe the punches he gave to Mr Fallon.

The accused said they were “punches he would feel, like the film Fists of Fury”.

In further interviews with gardaí, the court was told, Mr Hannigan was asked if he believed he had the ability to kill a man with his bare hands to which he replied he had the ability but not the intention.

He said the violence was in him, having watched martial arts videos over and over. “I watched Fists of Fury the whole time,” the court heard.

In one of the interviews, the court heard, Mr Hannigan told Det Sgt Maher that he had given “a good few” statements to gardaí and that “a good few” of them were lies.

In a subsequent interview he told gardaí he'd like to tell Mr Fallon's family that “it was just a tragic accident that went wrong,” drink was taken and he was very sorry for what had happened.

Mr Hannigan was told during one interview that State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy would say the victim sustained severe crush type injuries which, without immediate medical attention, would cause his death.

In response, the accused told gardaí “there's no way I gave that man crush type injuries, I'm pleading not guilty to that”, the court heard.

Under cross examination from Diarmaid McGuinness SC, defending, Detective Garda John O'Gorman, who had conducted a number of interviews with the accused, said he was familiar with Mr Hannigan and his family.

Det Gda O'Gorman said there were times Mr Hannigan would come to the station looking for assistance. He said he would have been made aware by another family member that the accused was having difficulties with drink. “The common phrase used was John was back on the drink,” Det Garda O'Gorman said.

Counsel asked the Detective Garda if he was concerned he was getting unreliable answers from someone he knew had an alcohol dependency and psychiatric history, to which he replied Mr Hannigan had spoken freely and used his own words.

It's the State's case that the accused and Joseph O'Riordan assaulted Mr Fallon at his flat in the early hours of the morning, before they all went to buy alcohol.

The state maintains that Mr Hannigan then viciously assaulted Mr Fallon in a car park and that he and O'Riordan helped him into River House, where he died.

O'Riordan is currently in jail, having pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr Fallon.

Mr McGuinness asked Det Gda O'Gorman yesterday if he was aware that Mr Hannigan might have been threatened by members of the O'Riordan family.

“He was quite frank about what Joey (Joseph O'Riordan) had done in the apartment. He was reliving it himself, it was graphic, it was detailed, I had to take him at what he said,” the Detective Garda said.

Mr McGuinness asked Det Gda O'Gorman if he investigated, via the O'Riordans, whether they had issued threats to kill Mr Hannigan if he spoke about the matter, to which the garda replied “no”.

The trial already heard that a post-mortem exam found 31 separate fractures to Mr Fallon's ribs. The State Pathologist found that he died of blunt force trauma to the head and trunk, with the chest injuries the major cause of death.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Paul Carney and a jury of eight men and three women.

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