Sunday 22 October 2017

Witness denies racially abusing Brazilian before fatal knife attack

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

Eoin Reynolds

An alleged victim of an assault in which his best friend was stabbed to death has denied racially abusing the Brazilian accused, who is now on trial for murder.

Conor Hogan from Taghmon in Wexford admitted twice assaulting Juraci Da Silva before the Brazilian allegedly stabbed him and his friend James Banville, but denied a third assault and said he couldn't remember telling Mr Da Silva to "go back to your own country".

Mr Da Silva (36), with an address at Park Lane Apartments in Waterford, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of 28-year-old James Banville at New Street in Waterford on October 8, 2016. His plea was not accepted by the State and he is on trial at the Central Criminal Court. Mr Da Silva has also pleaded not guilty to assaulting Mr Hogan causing him harm and to a charge of producing a knife on the same date and at the same place.

During cross examination today defence counsel Colman Cody SC said a number of people witnessed the first assault on Mr Da Silva in an alleyway in Waterford City centre, known locally as Cross Lanes. He said one of those witnesses would say that they heard Mr Banville or Mr Hogan say: "We are done with you now, go back to your own country." Another witness would say that he heard someone say: "What do you think you are doing here. This is our country."

Mr Hogan said he could not recall saying anything like that and told Mr Cody that the reason he and Mr Banville assaulted the accused was because he "got in our faces" and wouldn't go away when told. He said the colour of his skin didn't matter.

Mr Cody asked: "Is it possible you said those kind of things to Mr Da Silva?" and the witness replied: "no".

Mr Cody then asked if he would deny it if someone accused him of racially abusing Mr Da Silva.

The witness replied: "I don't know. I would deny it."

During the first assault, which happened at about 2.55am, he accepted that Mr Banville punched the accused while Mr Hogan accepted that he kneed the accused once in the head and punched him.

Describing events before the assaults, Mr Hogan said he travelled to Waterford that evening in Mr Banville's car. Mr Hogan had been drinking for most of the day and had a gram of cocaine, which he shared with Mr Banville when they arrived in the city. He accepted that they could be seen on CCTV snorting cocaine at Cross Lanes in the moments before they assaulted Mr Da Silva the first time.

Mr Hogan accepted that he then assaulted Mr Da Silva a second time when, as he and Mr Banville walked towards their car, they spotted the Brazilian talking to two girls outside an apartment block on John's Street.

The two men then walked on up towards New Street where the witness said Mr Da Silva came running towards them "shouting like a crazy man" and stabbed him and his friend.

Mr Cody put it to Mr Hogan that another witness will say that Mr Hogan and Mr Banville ran aggressively towards the accused and threw punches at him moments before the stabbing. Mr Hogan said this was not true.

The trial continues before Justice Michael White and jury of six men and six women.

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