Wednesday 13 December 2017

Manslaughter accused ‘threatened witness’ on night boy died

Stephen Hughes
Stephen Hughes

Declan Brennan

A witness has told the trial of a man accused of starting a fire in which a young boy died that the accused threatened him on the night.

Stephen Hughes was 12 years old in 2001 when he died in the fire in a makeshift den where he had been sleeping overnight.

Dermot Griffin (54) of Ballyfermot Road, Ballyfermot has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to manslaughter at Rossfield Avenue, Tallaght on September 1, 2001.

James Farrelly told Mary Rose Gearty SC, prosecuting, that he met Mr Griffin that night around the Rossfield estate.

 “He came across the road towards me. He approached me and he said if you open your mouth I'll kill you,” Mr Farrelly said.

He said he told gardai at the time that he had been drinking indoors all night because he didn't want to get involved.

Michael Norton, a forensic scientist at the Forensic Science Laboratory, told Ms Gearty that he found no traces of accelerant on any material found at the fire.

The material tested included  a piece of burnt fabric, fire damaged runners, and fire damaged carpet, timber, plastic, upholstery and work top pieces.

He said that the plastic sheeting used to make up the hut was easily ignitable, continued to burn after the ignition source was removed and produced droplets of burning material capable of igniting other materials.

He said other material used in the hut was easily ignitable with a small flame and continued to burn. He said that foam backed carpet and rubber backed matting, which were used in the hut, were also flammable but were not easily ignitable.

The trial continues before Judge Patricia Ryan and a jury.

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