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Friday 24 January 2020

Internet cafe user kicked to death over 70c, court told

Natasha Reid

AN internet cafe owner kicked a customer to death in a row over 70c, a witness has told a murder trial.

Zhen Dong Zhao (36), a Chinese man with an address at Jervis Street in Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the 40-year-old on May 20, 2011.

Dubliner Noel Fegan was originally from Finglas, but had been living in Aughrim Street.

Mr Fegan's friend, John Wynne, yesterday told the Central Criminal Court that he witnessed his death outside e-Times internet cafe on Dublin's Wellington Quay.

He said he spent most days with Mr Fegan, whom he met years earlier on a rehabilitation course for drug addicts.

He said that he and Mr Fegan were in a queue outside Focus Ireland in Temple Bar that afternoon, when Mr Fegan got a 'call me' text from his daughter.

"He found it very unusual for his daughter to get in touch with him and he was worried," testified Mr Wynne.

He said that Mr Fegan had no credit and that there was no reply when he tried to call her from somebody else's phone so they decided to try an internet cafe.

They went to e-Times, which was run by the accused, and Mr Fegan went into a booth to phone his daughter.

"Noel came out of the box and I heard him telling the guy: 'All I could get was the answering machine'. The accused turned his screen around and it showed 70 cent," recalled Mr Wynne.

"Noel took two 20 cents out of his pocket and said that's all he had," he continued. "The accused reached out and gave Noel an open-hand slap and Noel reacted and gave one back."

He said that Mr Zhao then chased Mr Fegan outside. He said that when he followed them, his friend was lying on the ground with his head up against a railing. "I saw the accused kicking him straight in the head. I didn't see any body kicks," he said.

"I was roaring at him to stop. I put my arm out between them and said he has enough," said Mr Wynne. "He just ignored me.

"Noel was unconscious. There was no sign of life and he was still kicking him," he added. "He was purple. I knew he was dead."

He said that someone told Mr Zhao that he was in serious trouble.

"He smiled at them," said Mr Wynn. "He was standing over him, looking down, proud of what he'd done. That's the impression I got."

Pauline Whally, prosecuting, asked Mr Wynne if he heard anything during the assault.

"Just the echo of the boots into his head," replied the witness.

Ms Whally said it was the prosecution's case that Mr Fegan died of bleeding to the brain caused by the kicking to the head.

She said that, in his final garda interview, the accused admitted kicking Mr Fegan a number of times.

Mr Zhao told gardai that he'd had trouble with customers not paying in the past and wanted to teach them a lesson, she said.

However, he said he was sorry Mr Fegan had died.

"This man died and my life is ruined and both families have suffered as a result," he told gardai, she said.

However, she said that "One can be remorseful, but that doesn't mean it's not murder".

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy.

Irish Independent

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