Friday 30 September 2016

Jury begins deliberations in manslaughter trial where the State says victim died from cardiac arrest caused by blow to the chest

Declan Brennan

Published 07/12/2015 | 17:38

Judge Patrick McCartan sent the jury of six men and six women out this afternoon to begin deliberations after putting it in charge.
Judge Patrick McCartan sent the jury of six men and six women out this afternoon to begin deliberations after putting it in charge.

The jury has begun deliberating in a manslaughter trial where the State say the victim died from a rare type of cardiac arrest caused by a blow to the chest.

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Paul Brannigan (24) of Ratoath Drive, Finglas, Dublin has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the manslaughter of Jason Saunders at Fassaugh Avenue, Cabra West on March 18, 2014.

He has further pleaded not guilty to assaulting Mr Saunders causing him harm and to producing a golf club in the course of a dispute at the same date and location.

Judge Patrick McCartan sent the jury of six men and six women out this afternoon to begin deliberations after putting it in charge.

He told the jurors that they needed to satisfy themselves that an injury to Mr Saunders chest was caused by the golf club and that this injury was the direct cause of his death.

During four days of evidence the jury heard it was the State's case that Mr Saunders died from commotio cordis, a lethal disruption of heart rhythm occurring as a result of a blow to the chest directly over the heart at a critical time.

The blow has to occur within a 30 millisecond window during the cycle of a heart beat, the trial heard.

The unusual cause of death is more prevalent in America, specifically among ice hockey players and baseball pitchers who have collapsed dead after being hit by the hard ball or puck.

The prosecution case is that the accused struck Mr Saunders with the golf club while “violently swinging” it at him and this was the blow that caused the fatal cardiac arrest.

A witness for the defence, retired assistant State pathologist Dr Declan Gilsenan, disputed Chief State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy's findings.

He told the trial that he believed the man died as a combination of taking a cocktail of illegal drugs and a spike in testosterone causing by the argument.

This combination resulted in the victim going into cardiac arrest, Dr Gilsenan testified.

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