A MAN has been acquitted of killing a taxi driver who died after hitting his head on the pavement following a single punch.
William Keegan (27), of Pearse House, Pearse Street, Dublin told gardai: "If I didn't hit him, he would have hit me."
He pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the unlawful killing of Moses Ayanwole (41) on Pearse Street, Dublin on November 23, 2011.
The jury spent four hours deliberating over two days before returning the unanimous not guilty verdict. Judge Hogan told a tearful Mr Keegan that he was free to go.
The court had heard that Mr Keegan and four others had decided to get a taxi from a Pearse Street pub into the city centre, but taxi driver Mr Ayanwole wouldn't take five passengers.
Mr Keegan said he was left behind in the car as the others in his group jumped out and immediately got a different cab.
He said he thought Mr Ayanwole was pursuing him across the road after he got out of the car because he wanted money for a fare, even though the vehicle hadn't moved.
"If I didn't hit him, he would have hit me. He was not getting out of the taxi for nothing," Mr Keegan told gardai.
Detective Garda Mark Looby told prosecuting barrister Maurice Coffey that Mr Keegan asked about Mr Ayanwole's age and family during interview.
Det Gda Looby explained that Mr Ayanwole had still been alive when the accused was questioned. He said Mr Keegan told him: "I'll say a prayer. I hope he pulls through."
Eyewitness Fionn Cooper, a student, told Mr Coffey that he and a friend had been walking along Pearse Street after a night out when he saw a taxi stopped outside a pub.
He said a back-seat passenger got out of the vehicle and the driver followed.
Mr Cooper said he thought the driver tapped the passenger on the shoulder before the passenger turned around and struck the driver, who fell back and hit his head off the ground.
Emergency services found him conscious but unresponsive at the scene.
Mr Coffey read out a statement of a St James's Hospital doctor, who told gardai Mr Ayanwole's CT scan showed he had suffered a severe and inoperable brain trauma.
Former Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Khalid Jaber, told Mr Coffey that the cause of death was serious brain damage.