Monday 18 December 2017

Man died from blunt force trauma consistent with blow from 'the very tip of a baseball bat', murder trial hears

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

Alison O’ Riordan

The Deputy State Pathologist has told a murder trial jury that a young man died from blunt force trauma to the head which was consistent with a blow from "the very tip of a baseball bat."

Zoltan Almasi (44) with an address at Harbour View, Naas, Co Kildare is charged with murdering Joseph Dunne at the same address on May 16 2014.

Last week at the Central Criminal Court Mr Almasi pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Dunne.

Today prosecution counsel Mr Bernard Condon SC called Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis to give evidence.

Dr Curtis told the court he carried out a post mortem examination on the deceased in the mortuary of Naas General Hospital on May 17 2014.

The court heard there was up to thirteen injuries to the deceased's head and neck including bruising which covered a fracture.

Dr Curtis also said there was a "deep abrasion" over the front of the right knee of Mr Dunne which was typical of a "terminal collapse".

The witness examined the under surface of the scalp of the deceased and found that it revealed several areas of bruising.

"In the upper occipital region there was a large area of raised bruising. In the left temporal region of the scalp there was bruising.

There was a very big bleed in the skull and the left half of the brain had been squashed. There was a considerable quantity of blood at the base of the brain," he said.

The post mortem examination concluded that Joseph Dunne died as a result of "severe traumatic head injury."

A toxicology report from July 3 2014 revealed that the deceased was intoxicated with alcohol at the time.

Dr Curtis said there were no drugs detected in Mr Dunne's body.

"The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head," he said.

Dr Curtis agreed with the prosecution that the post mortem supported the findings that "only one substantial blow" was delivered to the deceased.

When shown the baseball already produced in the case Dr Curtis said that: "In my opinion the use of this baseball bat or a similar type of implement could have caused the injury seen on the deceased’s head."

In cross examination Dr Curtis told defence counsel Mr Colm O'Briain SC that the fracture to the skull was "in more than one piece".

He said that as a result of the blow there was bleeding outside the brain between the brain and skull.

Dr Curtis agreed with counsel that the injury was "consistent" with a blow of the "very tip of a baseball bat."

Prosecution counsel then called Donal Dockery to give evidence. He told the jury he was out for dinner in the Vie de Châteaux restaurant in Naas on May 16.

He went outside the restaurant to have a cigarette at 10.30pm when he heard voices raised at a vehicle.

Mr Dockery told the court he saw two men who were "agitated" around opposite sides of a vehicle.

"The guy with the baseball bat was concerned about his car, he was obviously annoyed and just kept talking  about his car," he said.

The court heard Mr Dockery then saw a man who was bleeding lying on the ground.

Later the gardai brought the witness towards the harbour to where a man was sitting on a bench.

"It was the same man who had a bat in his hand earlier on in the night. I noticed he was wearing a dark top, had sallow skin. He was not Irish, more European looking and he had glasses on," he said.

Witness Ms Mary Bergin O'Connor was also called by the prosecution.

 She told the court that she was walking to her car at Basin Street in Naas at 10.15pm.

"I could hear someone shout "drop the baseball bat" and then a man ran in front of me. He was running quite fast. I knew something serious had happened so I turned and walked up Basin Street," she said.

Ms Bergin O'Connor said this man then "jumped over a gateway and into a house."

The trial continues.

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