Monday 11 December 2017

Man who died after 'violent and sustained assault' was burned after death - court hears

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Natasha Reid

The trial of two men charged with murdering a 41-year-old in Carlow has heard that there had been attempts to burn him after his death following a ‘violent and sustained assault’.

He died of blunt force trauma to his head and neck, and many of his injuries had a pattern such as from the sole of a shoe, ‘as in stamping’.

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy was giving evidence today of the post-mortem exam she carried out on the deceased.

The Central Criminal Court trial has heard that Latvian man Gints Intembergs was found dead on his kitchen floor on the morning of 16th of September, 2014.

Liam Power (52) of no fixed abode, and Dzintars Sackalausks (33) of Barrowvale, Graiguecullen, Co Carlow are charged with murdering him on that or the previous day.

Mr Sackalausks has pleaded not guilty to murdering him at the deceased man’s home in Graigowen, Tullow. Mr Power has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.

Each accused has also pleaded not guilty to assaulting another man, Aigar Sildars, causing him harm on the same occasion.

Prof Cassidy testified that she attended the scene that afternoon and found the deceased lying face up on a tiled floor, covered with a duvet.

“He had obvious injuries to his face,” she said. “There was evidence of attempts to burn his t-shirt and there were cigarette burns on the trunk.”

She later carried out a post-mortem exam on his body.

“He had severe and extensive trauma to his face, head, neck and upper chest,” she said.

She explained that the injuries to his head and neck had a patterned, striped appearance, indicating impact with an object such as the sole of a shoe.

She said his nose was swollen and flattened, one of his teeth was broken and he had a fractured rib.

She also found evidence of fire damage.

“There were burns on his body,” she said. “The pubic hair was singed.”

She outlined further fire damage to his arm and the base of his penis.

She said that an internal exam found a subdural haemorrhage. She explained that this was ‘a massive blood clot’ inside the skull cavity.

“The subdural haemorrhage had compressed his brain, causing death,” she said.

She said the right half of his brain was swollen and there was a haemorrhage to its surface.

She explained that this bleeding had been caused by the tearing of blood vessels on the surface of the brain and that this was due to the head trauma.

She said that death would likely not have been instant and that he may have lain unconscious, possibly for hours, before his death.

She noted that many of the surface injuries had shown a pattern such as from the ‘sole of a shoe, as in stamping’.

“There were seven or eight separate impacts to his head, neck and chest,” she said.

She said he was considerably intoxicated with alcohol, with a blood ethanol level of 340mg per cent.

“Death can occur from that level of alcohol alone,” she said.

However, she said there was ‘evidence of a violent and sustained assault’. She added that the attempted burning of his clothing and body appeared to have been ‘peri or post-mortem’.

She gave his cause of death as subdural haemorrhage due to blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

Under cross examination by Patrick Gageby SC, defending Mr Sackalausks, she confirmed that the patterned injuries ‘could have been caused by stamping’.

She said that any rapid movement of the brain could cause the blood vessels to tear.

“I can’t say which blow, which action, caused his death,” she said.

She agreed that the fact he was drunk and unprepared could be a factor.

“Being so drunk increases the likelihood of movement of the head,” she explained.

Under cross examination by Michael Delaney SC, defending Mr Power, she said that stamping would not generally cause movement of the brain.

The trial continues before Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy and a jury of five men and seven women.

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