Monday 22 January 2018

Murder accused reached out at young man 'with reckless swipe rather than a deliberate blow', jury told

Photo: Getty Images/Ingram Publishing
Photo: Getty Images/Ingram Publishing

Alison O'Riordan

A Hungarian murder accused reached out at a young Kildare man "with a reckless swipe rather than a deliberate blow", a jury has been told.

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.

This morning defence counsel Mr Colm O'Briain SC told the jury that murder is "a big thing" and is "perhaps the most grave crime in this jurisdiction."

"Manslaughter on the other hand is not a small thing. It is also a very serious offence and can be punishable by up to life imprisonment," said counsel. 

The court heard that for the jury to convict Mr Almasi of the offence, they must be certain that he is guilty of that offence.

"Your decision will be a lasting decision. You’re entitled to make mistakes in your own lives but when dealing with the life of Mr Almasi you’re not," said counsel.

The barrister told the jury they were entitled to give the accused the benefit of the doubt unless the prosecution have "established that their assertion is true."

"The fact that Mr Alamsi wasn’t up front in interviews doesn't make him a murderer. A specific intention has to exist for it to be murder," he said.

The cause of death was a single blow to the top of the rear of Mr Dunne's head by the very tip of the baseball bat, said Mr O'Briain.

"The evidence in this case indicates a swing from afar by a moving man, in the direction of another moving man which did impact on the head but it could easily have impacted elsewhere," he said.

The defence counsel said there was insufficient evidence in this case for the jury to be satisfied that this act was intentional and that Mr Almasi "deliberately struck" the head of Mr Dunne.

The barrister also said there was clear evidence that Mr Almasi's van was "stuck loudly" and "a number of times."

"It may be that there was no damage to the van but not from the want of trying. The thumping of the van sets in course the chain of events," he said.

Mr O'Briain said these were young men of a "certain bulk" where the accused brought a baseball bat to chase them away and defend himself if necessary.

"I’d ask you to consider the aftermath and if these are the acts of a cold murderer. Mr Almasi places the baseball bat inside his front door

where he picked it up. He doesn’t dispose of the murder weapon, he leaves it it there. He doesn’t dispose of his clothes or hides them,

he leaves his work trousers on the floor.

"Are these the actions of a man who is seeking to evade justice or a man who struck a man coldly to the head? I suggest they are not," said counsel.

Mr O'Briain told the jury that the prosecution want them to draw inferences from the fact that there were "truths untold" by Mr Almasi.

"Each and every one of those untruths can be explained by a man who has turned his life upside down in a matter of seconds but who is not guilty of murder," he said.

Mr O'Briain said his client is hoping in his interviews with gardai that the "unintended consequences of his acts" are not true.

"He keeps saying he felt it (the baseball bat) didn’t reach him. He reached out with a reckless swipe rather than a deliberate blow," said counsel.

Counsel said the prosecution ask the jury to assume that the blow to the head was "aimed and targeted" and that in Mr O'Briain's submission this "cannot be done."

"The killing of Mr Dunne was not deserved, it was a wrong unlawful killing but it was not murder," he said.

Finally Mr O'Briain said there was not sufficient evidence for the jury to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Alamsi intended

to kill or cause sufficient injury to Joseph Dunne.

Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan will finish charging the jury on Monday morning.

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