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Couple deny murdering reveller in party attack

A MAN and woman have gone on trial at the Central Criminal Court accused of murdering a 29-year-old man.

Michael Cruise (19), from Donore Avenue, Ballsgrove, in Drogheda, and Louise Wall (21), from Cranmore, Clogherhead, have both pleaded not guilty to the murder of Darren McKeown in Drogheda in December 2007.

Mr McKeown, who was from Donore, in Co Meath, died in Beaumont Hospital on December 29, 2007, after an alleged assault at a party in the Rowan Heights estate, Drogheda, in the hours between Christmas Day and St Stephen's Day.

Cruise and Wall have also denied a second count of violent disorder. Opening the case for the prosecution, Sean Gillane told the jury that the case is one of alleged joint enterprise or common design.

Mr Gillane said that Mr McKeown had lived in an area of Co Meath that bordered the Rowan Heights estate in Rathmullen, and that he knew a number of people who lived there.

On Christmas Day he went drinking at a house in the estate, and the day involved "considerable and heavy drinking by a number of people". Word spread that a party was taking place, and a large number of people were gathered in the house throughout the day.

During the party, Mr McKeown argued with a woman who had been involved in a relationship with his brother, but the relationship had broken up.

Mr Gillane said he afterwards became the subject of a "savage attack" outside the house.


He told the jury they will hear evidence of "kicks to the head and upper torso of Mr McKeown, who was lying on the ground and not defending himself".

Mr McKeown tried to get to his feet but fell and cracked his head on the ground. He then went back into the house where there was a "subsequent assault" in the living room, during which he was "punched and struck with an ashtray".

The emergency services arrived on the scene at around 3.30am and rushed him to hospital. He died three days later.

The trial continues.