Tuesday 21 May 2019

Fermoy man killed with a single blow to the head with iron bar

Friend tells trial how they returned to car park 'to frighten' the two truck drivers accused of murder

A 40 year old father of two who was fatally injured during a row at a filling station in North Cork died as a result of injuries to the back of his head consistent with being struck once by an iron bar, a murder trial has heard.

Hungarian, Ludowit Pasztor from Glencullen, Fermoy was pronounced dead at the scene after he and a Polish friend, Mariusz Osail (40) became involved in a row with two Polish truck drivers at the Amber Filling Station in Fermoy on February 21, 2017.

Polish nationals Tomasz Wasowicz (45) and Marcin Skrzpezyk (31), who were both working as truck drivers for Macroom Haulage at the time, deny the murder of Mr Pasztor (40).

This week, Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster told the men's trial at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork that she found no evidence of either offensive or defensive wounds on Mr Pasztor's hands or arms when she conducted a post-mortem. She said Mr Pasztor suffered a depressed fracture at the base of skull where she also found three lacerations which were consistent with a single blow from an iron bar with a washer at one end and a screw at the other, which she found near his body.

She said blood and urine tests indicated Mr Pasztor had an alcohol concentration equivalent to about six or seven pints of alcohol.

Earlier, witness Liam Byrnes told how he was bringing a load of butter from Castleblayney, Co Monaghan to Ringaskiddy when he pulled in for a break at the Amber Filling Station. He arrived at around 8.50pm and went in for some food which he ate in the dining area before returning to his truck to watch some TV and look at his phone.

"I heard a lot of roaring and shouting, and I looked up to see what was happening. I just saw two men on the ground and two men standing over them with what looked like bars, hitting them. One fellow was a taller fellow and the other was a small, round, butty fellow," he said.

He said that it was dark in the parking area at the back of the filling station and there wasn't that much lighting and he couldn't see the faces of the two men with the bars but the smaller man was wearing shorts and he saw them leave and get back into the cabs of two Macroom Haulage trucks.

He told the court that he heard "a clanging of an iron bar hopping of the ground" and he saw one of the men get up off the ground and he was stumbling as if he was dazed and he saw him get on his phone as the two other men got back into their trucks.

Cross-examined by Mr Wasowicz's counsel, Tim O'Leary SC, Mr Byrnes agreed the cab of his truck was some 34 metres from the cab of the Macroom truck, which was parked opposite him, where he saw one of the men get in and that the incident happened a further distance back down the beside the trailer.

He agreed with Mr O'Leary that he only looked up when he heard roaring and shouting and that he may have missed much of what happened.

Mr Byrnes was then cross-examined by defence counsel for Mr Skrzpezyk, Tom Creed SC, who said the jury would hear evidence from a pathologist that Mr Pasztor died from a single blow to the head, which knocked him to the ground, so he could not have seen Mr Pasztor being hit on the ground.

Witness Mariusz Osail (40) earlier told the court that he and Mr Pastorz (40) only wanted to scare Polish truck drivers Tomasz Wasowicz (45) and Marcin Skrzpezyk (31) when they went back to confront them at the Amber filling station in Fermoy on the night in question.

He confirmed that they had an earlier confrontation with the two Polish truck drivers when they were leaving the filling station after buying eight cans of Carlsberg at around 9.45pm, explaining that there had been "some unpleasant chat" between them.

Mr Osail said he and Mr Pasztor had been drinking earlier in the day and that when they returned to his house some 300 metres away after buying more beer at 9.45pm. Mr Pasztor asked him for some bars and he pointed him to some trampoline poles behind a shed.

"Ludo was insisting, he was saying it constantly and I said 'leave it, leave it - let's stay at home and drink more beers'. I don't know why we didn't stay at home - I don't know, I was just drunk - I am blaming myself, I live with it all the time, I have trauma because of it all the time," he said.

Cross-examined by Mr Skrzpezyk's counsel, Tom Creed SC, Mr Osail admitted that he felt some responsibility for Mr Pasztor's death as they had returned to the filling station together to confront the two accused who were in the cab of Mr Skrzpezk's truck.

Cross examined by Mr Wasowicz's counsel, Tim O'Leary, Mr Osial said he didn't' hit anyone with the trampoline bar and he didn't see Mr Pasztor hit anyone with the bar, and he could not explain how Mr Wasowicz sustained a fractured wrist or a number of other defensive wounds.

He said that he lost consciousness after being assaulted and when he came around and saw Mr Pasztor lying on the ground he feared for his life, so he threw away the iron bar before he began CPR on Mr Pasztor.

Mr O'Leary put it to Mr Osail that the real reason he threw it away was because he had brought it to the scene and knew that it proved that he and his friend were the aggressors but Mr Osail denied this.

"When I woke up, I noticed my friend lying here and there was a thing beside him. One of the drivers was by the cab of his truck and I was afraid they might attack us again so, it was kind of instinct, I grabbed the bar and ran away to the next truck with it and threw it away," he said.

Asked by Mr O'Leary why he told Det Garda Noel Howley that his friend was after "falling on the ground" rather than saying that he had been attacked, Mr Osail said that he was in a state of shock at the time and what he had meant to say was that he was lying on the ground.

The case continues.