Killer who beat man to death over cigarette is jailed for life
A man who beat a father of three to death following a drunken row over a cigarette has been sentenced to life in prison for murder.
Following the verdict, the victim's daughter Shawna Byrne gave an emotional statement, telling the court her family's world stopped the day he died, "his life and his dignity taken in an absolutely savage way".
Anthony Walsh (31), who has over 60 previous convictions, was found guilty of the murder of Dermot Byrne (54), in North Street, Swords, Co Dublin, on July 16, 2017 by a unanimous jury verdict.
"He was one of the most important people in our lives, as a father but also as a husband, a brother and a son," Ms Byrne told the Central Criminal Court.
The days after his death were a blur as they tried to figure out why their father had been beaten to death. Slowly they realised that he would not return.
"His white van would no longer be parked outside the house.
"The familiar sound of his voice, joking about one thing or another, was gone," she said. "He will not be there for our milestones. Our dad will not be there to walk us up the aisle."
Walsh inflicted more than 100 injuries on Mr Byrne during a sustained attack.
Speaking about seeing their father for the first time after his body was left in the morgue for 11 days, Ms Byrne said: "He was bruised and had cuts and stitches on his face.
"This is the last memory I have of my dad and is something I'll never forget."
Walsh's sentence was insignificant compared with the "tragedy that arrived on our doorstep that day".
Justice Eileen Creedon sympathised with Mr Byrne's family. She sentenced Walsh to the mandatory life imprisonment for Mr Byrne's murder and seven years for stealing his bank card, Zippo lighter and keys after beating him to death.
Walsh did not react as he was sentenced and led away by prison guards.
Mr Byrne was well known in Swords and spent many weekends at the local GAA club and in various pubs.
Mr Byrne died from a traumatic brain injury complicated by intoxication and blood inhalation.
Following the beating, Walsh stripped him of his clothes and put his bank card, lighter and keys into his holdall. The next day he confessed what he had done to his parents.