Sunday 22 September 2019

Cafe manager kicked customer to death in just 10 seconds after 70c phone call row

Zhen Dong Zhao Photo: Collins Courts
Zhen Dong Zhao Photo: Collins Courts

Alison O'Riordan

An internet café manager kicked a customer to death during a "seven to 10 second" loss of control after a row over a 70c phone call, his sentence hearing has been told.

At the Central Criminal Court last month, Zhen Dong Zhao (40) pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Noel Fegan (39) outside the e-Times internet café and call shop in Dublin city centre on May 20, 2011.

The plea was accepted by the State. Zhao, of Jervis Street, Dublin, was originally convicted of Mr Fegan's murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2012.

However, that conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal earlier this year and a retrial was ordered.

Prosecution counsel, Ms Pauline Walley SC, recalled Detective Garda Niall O'Reilly to give evidence.

During his detention the accused was interviewed by gardaí on four occasions over two days.

The court heard Zhao was also examined by a doctor during this time but he had no injuries.

Det Gda O'Reilly agreed with counsel that when he gave evidence on Monday, he told the court that a row had started in the shop between the accused and the deceased. One witness had agreed she saw Mr Fegan slapping the accused's face while a different account was given by another witness who said he saw the accused slap Mr Fegan first, the court heard.

Det Gda O'Reilly agreed with Ms Walley that there was a conflict between witnesses over who hit who first.

Zhao was originally convicted of Mr Fegan's murder on December 5, 2012 and spent two years and eight months in custody, the court heard.

The witness agreed with Anthony Sammon SC that his client had expressed remorse for what he had done during the garda interviews.

The court heard CCTV footage showed that the incident from when Mr Fegan entered the shop was "a very brief one" and lasted three minutes and 36 seconds.

Mr Fegan's phone call to his daughter lasted 89 seconds and the row which then broke out over the payment of 70c for the phone call lasted one minute and seven seconds.

Det Gda O'Reilly said the physical altercation during which the kicking took place outside the shop was "in and around seven to 10 seconds".

Zhao was remanded in custody until December 20, when he will be sentenced.

Irish Independent

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