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Friday 19 September 2014

Murder accused said he was "panicking" when he told gardai he gave victim "Bruce Lee" punches, court hears

Natasha Reid

Published 26/02/2014 | 18:20

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John Hannigan has denied the murder of Anthony Fallon in January 2012

A Tipperary man has told his murder trial that he had nothing to do with killing his friend and that he was ‘just panicking’ when he told gardai he had given him ‘Bruce Lee’ punches.

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John Hannigan (46) spent today in the witness box at the Central Criminal Court, where he is on trial charged with murder and assault.

Mr Hannigan (46) of River House, New Quay, Clonmel has pleaded not guilty to murdering Anthony Fallon in Clonmel on January 18 2012.

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

The unemployed labourer said that he had alcohol addiction and that he and had been drinking in his apartment with another man, Joseph O’Riordan, the night before the killing.

He said he and O’Riordan left to buy more alcohol around midnight, and that they then went to Mr Fallon’s flat and shared it with him.

“Joseph O’Riordan was kind of egging him on and bullying him (the deceased),” he testified.

“They’d a large bottle of vodka,” he added. “The more they were drinking the vodka, the more aggressive Joseph O’Riordan was getting.”

“Joseph O’Riordan was just hitting him for no reason with his fists: left hand, right hand,” he said.

He said that Mr Fallon didn’t respond or defend himself.

“He wouldn’t even put up his hands,” he said. “I intervened. I had to stop it a couple of times.”

The accused said he was ‘refereeing most of the night' and that the only time he hit Mr Fallon was when he struck his shoulder to break them up.

“Joseph O’Riordan just jumped up off the chair and swung the chair at Anthony Fallon, full force on the head,” he continued.

“He just said: ‘He deserves everything he gets. He was drinking my drink’,” he said.

“There was blood everywhere. It was up on the ceiling. It was on the walls,” he testified. “Joseph O’Riordan just went berserk.”

He said that he helped Mr Fallon clean himself up, but that ‘it just kicked off again’.

“Joseph hit him a couple more times,” he said. “He went for Anthony with the kettle.”

He said O’Riordan also assaulted him with a television.

He said they left the flat because O’Riordan wanted more alcohol.

“I just walked up with the lads because I knew Anthony wasn’t in the best shape,” he explained. “He wasn’t happy being around Joseph O’Riordan.”

He said he did not attack or punch Mr Fallon in a car park after they bought more alcohol.

“Never,” he said, adding that Mr Fallon had been staggering as they walked and had fallen once.

“He felt very weak,” he said. “He was leaning on the railings. His last words to me were: ‘Johnny’. I knew he was in trouble.”

He said he helped him to his apartment building and lay him down inside the door before dialling 999.

His barrister, Diarmaid McGuinness SC, asked why he had told gardai that he had hit Mr Fallon in the car park.

“I just panicked. I hadn’t my medication and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind over the loss of a friend,” he replied.

While cross examining him, Denis Vaughan Buckley SC, prosecuting, read extracts from his interviews with gardai. The accused had said he had lost his temper and punched Mr Fallon ‘hard and fast’ like Bruce Lee.

“What I said was lies,” testified Mr Hannigan.

“You were implicating yourself for something you didn’t do?” asked the prosecutor.

“That’s correct,” he replied.

The trial has heard that a post-mortem exam found 31 separate fractures to Mr Fallon's ribs. It also heard that Joseph O'Riordan is currently in jail, having pleaded guilty to assaulting him.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Paul Carney and a jury of seven men and four women.

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