Thursday 14 December 2017

Second brother is cleared of farmer murder

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

TEARS of both joy and sadness were shed last night as two families experienced very different emotions to the release of a murder accused.

No one will now be held accountable for the death of Co Laois cattle farmer Edward 'Eddie' Dempsey (49), a father of two, who died in a dispute over a stray heifer.

Daniel Joseph 'DJ' Byrne (39) sat still in his seat as the jury returned to the Central Criminal Court for the second time in two days with a not guilty verdict.

His only acknowledgement that he heard the words uttered by the jury foreman was a rapid swallowing and a half-smile.

Elsewhere, his younger brother Jason (33), who was acquitted earlier in the week on the same charge of murdering neighbouring cattle farmer Mr Dempsey, sat quietly at the back of the courtroom as tears slipped down his cheek.

Geraldine Byrne, the wife of father-of-three DJ, also broke down in tears, as Judge Patrick McCarthy dismissed the jury.

Devastated relations of Mr Dempsey hugged his widow Aileen; while Ambrose Dempsey, who bore a keen resemblance to his dead brother, left the courtroom without comment.

A person close to the case described the situation as "delicate" as both families continue to reside in close proximity in the rural community.


It took 10 hours and 55 minutes of deliberating before the panel of 10 men and two women returned shortly after 4pm yesterday with a verdict of not guilty in the case of DJ Byrne.

Both brothers, who worked together as builder-contractors, and lived side-by-side at Hammer Lane, Borness, Mountmellick, Co Laois, had denied the murder of Mr Dempsey.

The two siblings refused to comment on the outcome as they left the courthouse last night arm-in-arm with their respective partners.

Similarly Mr Dempsey's family also remained silent. A spokesperson for the Dempseys described them as very distressed.

Mr Dempsey died in Portlaoise Hospital on October 11, 2007, around 10 months after a row at the neighbouring Byrnes' yard.

Mr Byrne told the court he had repeatedly told Mr Dempsey not to enter his property. He said the farmer had pushed the gate in on top of him while saying "I'm f**king going in there and no one's going to f**king stop me."

Mr Byrne said the gate was pushed in on top of him, knocking him backwards, and he banged into his brother Jason.

Mr Byrne said the farmer had told him there was "bad, dirty breeding" in him and he believed this was a reference to his daughter, who has Down Syndrome. He said the farmer came at him with his fists closed and he struck him with the handle of a shovel as he slipped backwards.

Mr Dempsey's brother, John, said the two brothers had set upon the dead man with sticks, with DJ striking him "full-force" in the head, while Jason beat him across the legs.

Medical evidence pinpointed Mr Dempsey's head injury as a "substantial" cause of his death. He never properly regained consciousness after the incident.

There was no medical evidence to substantiate any injuries to Mr Dempsey's legs.

Irish Independent

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