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Trial over screwdriver deaths of Polish men nears end

David Curran fidgeted in his seat as the closing arguments were made in his trial this week. The 19-year-old is accused, along with Sean Keogh, of the murder of two Polish men in Drimnagh in February 2008.

Pawel Kalite and Marius Szwajkos both died when they were stabbed in the head with a screwdriver on February 23, 2008. Curran, of Lisadell Green, Drimnagh, Dublin, has denied murdering the two men but admits their manslaughter. Keogh, 21, of Vincent Street West, Inchicore, Dublin, denies the murder.

The case against Curran revolves around what he was told in a phone call or calls minutes before the two men died. The prosecution says Curran was told his younger cousin had been in a fight outside a local takeaway and had gone looking for revenge.

But Curran, giving evidence in his own defence, told the court earlier this week that he had received a call from his young cousin, who had told him that his father had been stabbed. He told his counsel, Giolliaosa O Lideadha SC, the news had made him angry. He said he would not have reacted this way if he had heard his cousin had been in the fight -- he would have just told him to go home.

Curran said he and Sean Keogh had been going to rob from some factories in Inchicore when he received the call. He had a screwdriver with him for that. He still had it in his hand when he arrived at the takeaway.

He told the court he had attacked a car parked there, shouting: "Was it youse that stabbed me da?"

His cousin and the two girls he was with had told him the people in the car were not the people who had attacked his father and they had started to run down the road until they reached the house on Benbulban Road where Pawel Kalite and Marius Szwajkos lived. Mr Kalite had previously been involved in an altercation with Curran's cousin.

Mr Kalite was standing at the front gate with his housemate Kamila Szertemeta.

Curran said the others he was with had been screaming that these were the people who had stabbed his father.

"And I was screaming 'was it youse' and the small man with the bald head was screaming back in his own language. The girl was trying to stop him and he was coming towards me and I stabbed him."

Curran said that Mr Szwajkos had then jumped over the fence and come towards him. "He was coming over as the other man was roaring and shouting so I stabbed him too as he was coming over the railings."

He said he thought they had stabbed his dad and they were now coming for him. "It made me go mad."

However, the prosecution say that phone records of traffic between Curran's phone and that of one of the young female witnesses show several calls from her phone to his in the time between the altercation at the takeaway and the killings. There had also been a text from Curran.

In her evidence, the girl had told the court that she had phoned Curran and told him about his cousin being in a fight. She said he had told her he would come down and sort it out.

Curran denied receiving any calls from the girl, insisting the only call he had received had been from his cousin, saying that his father had been stabbed.

Curran told the court he had spent most of that day drinking and taking drugs. He had been drinking vodka and alcopops and smoking cannabis. He had also taken between 15 and 20 Diazepam pills. He said the effect was the same as usual. He was "off [his] head".

Giving evidence for the defence, Dr Brian Kirby, a senior lecturer in the Royal College of Surgeons who specialises in neuropharmacology, said that studies had shown that drugs like Diazepam, when mixed with alcohol, could cause increased aggressiveness, especially in those who already had problems with aggression.

However, he agreed with prosecution counsel Mr John O'Kelly that such reactions were unusual, although they were more prevalent among certain groups in society.

In his closing speech, Mr O'Kelly told the jury that Curran's story that he had believed his father had been stabbed was nothing but a self-serving lie.

He had not tried to find out how his father was, where he had been stabbed or where he was being treated but had gone straight to the site of his cousin's altercation.

The prosecution says that Keogh is guilty of murder by common design. Mr O'Kelly told the jury that Keogh had known exactly what he was doing when he went with Curran. The trial will continue on Tuesday. The jury members are expected to retire at some stage next week.

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