Murder accused looked 'mad to do something', witness claims
THE trial of two brothers accused of murdering a farmer in a row over a heifer was told yesterday one of the brothers looked "vicious" and " mad to do something" before inviting the man on to his land.
The jury in the case was hearing evidence from Thomas Gorman, a 24-year-old farmhand who worked for the dead man, Edward Dempsey, and was with him during the alleged assault in December 2006.
Mr Gorman went with 'Eddie' Dempsey and his brother John Dempsey in their Jeep to the Byrnes's farm at Hammer Lane, Co Laois, on December 18, 2006 to get back a heifer that had strayed on to the Byrnes's land.
The witness said the two Byrne brothers, Daniel-Joseph and Jason, were standing in their yard when they arrived and invited them to come in and get the heifer.
Mr Gorman said he was frightened because 'DJ' Byrne looked vicious and like he was "mad to do something".
Once Eddie walked into the yard, the witness said the gate was slammed shut behind him and the two brothers began to beat him.
DJ and Jason Byrne, both of Hammer Lane, Borness, Mountmellick, Co Laois, have denied at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin the murder of Eddie Dempsey, a 49-year-old neighbouring farmer and a father of two.
It is the prosecution's case that the brothers engaged in a joint enterprise on the day in question, and as a result Mr Dempsey died in hospital 10 months later, on October 11, 2007, from his injuries.
Mr Gorman, who told the court he still lives in Co Laois and works for John Dempsey, also described for the jury how Jason Byrne beat Eddie "at least three times across the legs".
He said Eddie collapsed to the ground after DJ Byrne hit him across the head with "the greatest power". Mr Gorman said he then dragged Eddie out of the yard.
During his cross-examination of the witness, senior counsel for the defence, John Shortt, asked if he was "selectively remembering bits" of what happened. The witness denied this.
He said it was "untrue" the Dempseys had parked their jeep and trailer right up to the gate of the Byrnes's yard, and that Eddie had pushed the gate in on top of DJ Byrne. Mr Gorman also said he didn't hear DJ Byrne telling Eddie four times not to come on to his land.
John Dempsey told the jury earlier in the trial that he saw Jason Byrne hitting his brother across the left leg so he "could hear the bone crack".
The defence argues that Jason Byrne never struck Mr Dempsey on the day in question.
The trial resumes on Monday before the jury of 10 men and two women.