Tuesday 18 June 2019

30 seconds of madness that led to Brian Murphy's death

It started off like any other summer evening for a group of carefree young men, but it ended in a shocking death for one of them after an early morning fight outside one of Dublin's plushest hotels.

IT TOOK all of 30 seconds for Brian Murphy to be killed. Thirty seconds of drink-fuelled madness on a summer night in 2000 that ended a life brutally and shattered four Dublin families.

It had started off like any other summer evening for five carefree young men with bright futures and happy home lives.

For 18-year-old Brian Murphy, who had just finished studying at Bruce College and was working part-time in the Brown Thomas department store on Grafton Street, life was good.

He'd secured a jot in the top department store for his best friend, Matthew Moran, and the two were preparing to go to Club Anabel on the night of August 30 2000 - the first time he'd ever been there.

The two, who grew up next door to one another in Ardilea, Clonskeagh, had been friends since the age of five or six and tended to socialise together.

They were both friendly with a barman at Anabel's who had told Brian he could get them on a guestlist, ensuring their speedy entry to the club.

They met up at the sports bar in UCD for a few drinks, then took the bus to Appian Way so Matthew could meet his younger brother and take back his ID card, as he would be needing it himself. Then they headed off for a good night.

Not far away, in the leafy suburb of Foxrock, a group of former Blackrock students were meeting up at the house of Shane Fallon for drinks before they hit the town. These were young men steeped in the tradition of Blackrock College, a school with one of the finest reputations in the country where many of Ireland's movers and shakers were educated.

There were about 16 people at the house. They included Dermot Laide from Castleblayney, who was more than a year out of Blackrock, Sean Mackey, and Andrew Frame, also Blackrock boys.

After a few drinks they headed off in a taxi to Anabel's, where a drinks promotion was underway.

Des Ryan, the fourth accused, and another ex-Blackrock student, made his own way to Club Anabel.

Arriving at the disco, one of Dermot Laide's friends was refused entry and he himself was forced to remain outside until the music stopped and his friends came back out.

He was staying in the home of one of them, Alan Dalton, who had already gone inside. There was nothing to do but wait.

There was nothing unusual in the night except, perhaps, that it was more boisterous than normal because of a drinks promotion: shots and shorts were the order of the evening.

Staff began clearing the premises of the 700-strong crowd at 2am. Brian Murphy and his friends were in good form. When someone stole a milk carton from a nearby milk truck and threw it across the road, Mr Murphy and a few others started singing "Hail to the milkman".

Mr Murphy and his friends left the side entrance of the hotel on to Burlington Road as another group of young men left the disco and made their way to the footpath.

The incident began near the gates of the hotel behind a parked bus. Witnesses said it was "not a normal fight". Normality seemed to be suspended for what the court heard was a "short, intensive attack".

Within seconds, Brian Murphy lay beyond any chance of ever regaining consciousness. He was just two weeks short of his 19th birthday.

He was carried across the road by his friend, Barry Cassidy. Attempts to revive him failed. His life long friend, Matthew Moran, was there to see Brian Murphy go a "horrible shade of white" as the blood came from his nose and mouth.

The ambulance was called at 3.11am. Brian Murphy arrived at St Vincent's Hospital at 3.35am. Despite intensive attempts to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead at 4.57am.

An intensive garda investigation began, culminating in four young men from prosperous families being charged with his killing and causing violent disorder.

Those charges led to the mammoth trial which concluded yesterday after 34 excruciating days in Dunlin's Circuit Criminal Court.

It became a trial which captivated the country and pointed a microscope at the attitude of: "This couldn't happen here, in leafy Dublin 4, could it?"

None of those accused of the killing were the type of young man usually associated with being before the courts. None of them had ever been in trouble before.

The events of that summer night back in 2000 meant they would be before Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court for seven weeks in which they faced the most serious of charges - taking the life of another.

Summer 2000 seemed a long way from court 24. The innocence of youth was long lost to the four accused: Andrew Frame (22), Nutley Lane, Donnybrook, Dublin 4; Dermot Laide (22), Rossvale, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan; Sean Mackey (23), South Park, Foxrock, Co Dublin; and Desmond Ryan (22), Dalkey, Co Dublin, who each pleaded not guilty to the charges of manslaughter on August 31 2000 and not guilty to violent disorder.

Brian Murphy will forever be a teenager. His young life was snuffed out before any of the opportunities of adult life could come his way.

It was the prosecution's case that the attack carried out on him was short and intensive - done at a time when there was no justification and after the fight had reached a stage where they should have stopped. They had intended to hurt him.

In the trial, Hugh Hartnett SC, counsel for Andrew Frame - who was found not guilty of manslaughter on the direction of Judge Michael White and acquitted of violent disorder - said people who have huge amounts to drink make significant mistakes.

He said if his client hadn't faced up to the people who taunted him that fateful night, the incident would never have happened. Other people had taken a wiser course of action and had walked away.

John Edwards, SC for Dermot Laide, said that for 20 years he'd been involved in cases of the utmost depravity and the most extreme violence. And, awful though the case was, it was far from the worst he had ever encountered.

However, he said he had found it to be one of the most hateful cases he had ever done.

"From the outset, I've had a kind of annoying dread in the pit of my stomach about this case - an annoying dread that a terrible injustice could be done," he said.

"An atmosphere almost like a frenzy has been whipped up by the press and broadcast media concerning this particular case. What happened in this case has happened before. I daresay it will happen again. God forbid it would happen to my children, it could happen to your children," Mr Edwards told the packed court.

The barrister told the jury that what happened to Brian Murphy was, by any stretch of the imagination, a disgrace; and that the young man met his death in circumstances which were shameful.

"He shouldn't have died. He should be here with us now. He was somebody's son. He was somebody's brother. He was somebody's friend," he said.

Brian Murphy's family - his parents, Mary and Dennis; his two sisters, Bronagh and Claire; and his younger brother, Robert - were all in court, along with numerous friends and relatives, to make sure everyone remembered that.

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