Sunday 25 February 2018

Witness at murder trial denies that he and the deceased started fight that led to fatal stabbing

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

Eoin Reynolds

A witness at a murder trial has denied that he and the deceased started the trouble that led to a fatal knife attack on a city street.

Conor Hogan from Taghmon in Wexford told defence counsel Colman Cody SC that the accused man, a Brazilian meat factory worker named Juraci Da Silva, "started it" when he approached them in an alleyway and wouldn't go away.

He also said he couldn't remember racially abusing the Brazilian or calling him a "pervert" and a "paedophile".

Mr Da Silva (36), with an address at Park Lane Apartments in Waterford, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of 28-year-old James Banville at New Street in Waterford on October 8, 2016. His plea was not accepted by the State and he is on trial at the Central Criminal Court. Mr Da Silva has also pleaded not guilty to assaulting Mr Hogan causing him harm and to a charge of producing a knife on the same date and at the same place.

On the second day of cross examination today, Mr Cody put it to the witness that he and Mr Banville provoked his client by racially abusing him, calling him a pervert and a paedophile and by attacking him.

He replied: "I didn't provoke anyone. I assaulted him." He also said he does not remember saying anything to Mr Da Silva, who he accused of "getting in our faces" when he came over to him and Mr Banville as they were minding their own business.

The court has previously heard that Mr Banville and Mr Hogan twice assaulted the accused man in the early hours of the morning. The first time was in an alleyway where Mr Banville and Mr Hogan were taking cocaine when the accused man approached them and started talking to them. Mr Hogan said that they told him to go away but he didn't, so they hit him.

Under cross examination today he said that was what started the trouble. Less than 20 minutes later Mr Hogan and Mr Banville met the accused again at the nearby Park Lane Apartments. Mr Hogan agreed with Mr Cody that the accused had his back turned to them and was not threatening them in any way when they walked over and struck him a number of times. Minutes after that assault came the final and fatal confrontation.

Mr Cody said other witnesses will say that Mr Banville and Mr Hogan called the Brazilian a pervert and a paedophile while they hit him. Mr Hogan said he could not remember saying that or anything else.

When counsel asked the witness why he had not told gardai the truth about those first two assaults in three statements made in October 2016 he said he was "mixed up" and wasn't himself. "My friend got killed," he added.

Mr Cody put it to him that the reason he didn't tell gardai was because he didn't want people to think that he and Mr Banville had "started this".

He replied: "He came up to us. We didn't go up to him."

The witness also agreed that he had previous convictions at Wexford District Court including for a section 3 assault in which Mr Hogan and three other males assaulted a man by punching him in the face in April 2015. He also has a conviction for burglary, section 3 misuse of drugs and public disorder.

Ellen Ward also gave evidence today, saying that she witnessed the first assault on Mr Juraci at Crosslanes. She said that Mr Juraci seemed to be minding his own business when one of the men punched him "for no reason" and the other struck him in the head with his knee. One of her friends told them: "That's f*****g wrong. Leave him alone." After that, she said Mr Juraci ran up the hill while the other two stayed around for a while. She told them they should go because the guards would be along and they headed off, only to come back some time later. She did not see the second attack on Mr Juraci.

The trial continues on Monday in front of Justice Michael White and a jury of six men and six women.

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