Sunday 22 September 2019

Accused is a big soft teddy bear, murder trial is told

Accused: Desmond Duffy (left) was ‘always quiet and submissive’. Picture: Collins Courts
Accused: Desmond Duffy (left) was ‘always quiet and submissive’. Picture: Collins Courts

Eoin Reynolds

A man accused of murdering his partner has been described as a "big soft teddy bear and a gentleman" by a friend of the couple who was giving evidence in his trial.

Lois Farrell said she knew the accused, Desmond 'Des' Duffy (70), and the deceased Desmond 'Dessie' Sullivan (59) for about eight years and was friends with both men.

When they were drunk she often noticed that Mr Sullivan would put Mr Duffy down, interrupt him and talk over him.

Ms Farrell met the two men in a pub on the evening Mr Sullivan died, she told defence counsel Caroline Biggs SC.

It was her birthday, and they invited her along to give her a gift of earrings and buy her drinks.

As they got more drunk, she said, Mr Sullivan became rude and disrespectful towards Mr Duffy.

She said Mr Sullivan was the boss in the relationship, would tell Mr Duffy what to do, and at times it seemed as though Mr Duffy wasn't allowed to talk.

She had seen similar behaviour a number of times before when Mr Sullivan was drunk, and noted that Mr Duffy was always quiet and submissive.

When Ms Biggs asked her if the accused ever fought back, the witness said: "I never even heard him raise his voice before. He might even just walk away at times."

She described the accused as intelligent but lacking confidence.

He would walk with his head down and she never saw him react to Mr Sullivan's behaviour.

She told Ms Biggs that she stood over a description she gave to gardaí of Mr Duffy as a "big soft teddy bear and a gentleman".

Mr Duffy has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Sullivan at the home they shared in Somerville Park, Rathmines, Dublin 6, on May 23, 2016.

He told gardaí he was acting in self-defence and is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy told prosecution counsel Conor Devally SC that Mr Sullivan died from compression of his neck causing a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Mr Sullivan's hypertensive heart disease and a combination of alcohol and Diazepam in his system may have contributed to his death.

She explained that the deceased's history of heart disease increased his risk of arrhythmia of the heart.

Professor Cassidy agreed with Ms Biggs that the injuries to Mr Sullivan's Adam's apple were consistent with the neck being compressed by a "pincer like" use of the fingers and thumb of one hand against the neck.

The prosecution has completed its evidence in the trial.

Justice Paul McDermott asked the jury of six men and six women to return tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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