Body of victim may have been burned while man was still alive, murder trial hears
A Latvian man allegedly suffered a “vicious assault” following an arm wrestling match and attempts were made to burn his body while he “may have still been alive”, a murder trial has heard.
Liam Power (52) of no fixed abode is charged with murdering Gints Intembergs (41) at Graigowen, Tullow, Co Carlow between the 15th and 16th of September, 2014.
When arraigned this morning at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Power pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter. This plea was not accepted by the State and a jury was sworn in to try him and his co-accused. Mr Power also pleaded not guilty to assaulting Aigar Sildars, causing him harm at the same address and on the same dates.
Dzintars Sackalausks (33) of Barrowvale, Graiguecullen, Co Carlow is also charged with murdering Gints Intembergs at the same address and on the same dates. He pleaded not guilty to the charge. Mr Sackalausks also pleaded not guilty to assaulting Aigar Sildars, causing him harm at the same address and on the same dates.
Opening the prosecution case to a jury this afternoon, Mr Paul Greene SC told the court that in the early hours of September 16, 2014, gardai and medics were called to the deceased’s address where they found Mr Intembergs on the floor covered by a duvet.
Counsel told the jury they would hear that Mr Intembergs was pronounced dead at 9.40am that morning by a medical officer who attended the scene.
Mr Greene said the jury would hear from State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy who carried out a post-mortem on Mr Intembergs body.
“The deceased died as a result of a subdural haemorrhage caused by blunt force trauma to his head,” he said.
Counsel said the jury would hear that Aigar Sildars was in another room of the house at the time and “did not know what was going on.”
Mr Greene told the court that arising from the investigation it became apparent to gardai that there had been a social gathering at the house on the previous evening.
“At 9pm Mr Power drove Mr Sackalausks to the deceased’s address as the four men were having drinks there. This occurred in circumstances where Mr Power was resident at an address called Shaw Park in Carlow. He had been there with Mr Sackalausks and they were socialising,” he said.
The court heard that Mr Power had access to the motorcar belonging to the landlady of Shaw Park.
Counsel said the jury would hear that the two men purchased “a distilled white spirit of some kind” while driving to Mr Intembergs address.
While in the deceased’s house, the four men drank in the kitchen and “an arm wrestling game” took place.
“What happened after this is blurred as a large amount of alcohol was consumed,” said the barrister.
The court heard that female witnesses who attended the house “at the start of the social encounter” will give evidence during the trial.
“Arising from the arm wrestling encounter it appears there may have been some interaction between the late Mr Intembergs and Mr Power. Arising from all that a very vicious assault was carried out on Mr Intembergs,” he said.
Mr Greene said it would be alleged that the deceased suffered a blow and then fell before being assaulted “over a protracted period of time” by Mr Power and Mr Sackalausks.
“Blows were administered to the late Mr Intembergs head and you will hear evidence of a forensic nature with respect to the footwear of each of the two co-accused and its significance to injuring the deceased,” said Mr Greene.
The barrister said the jury will hear evidence that attempts were made to burn Mr Intembergs body while he “may have still been alive.”
Counsel said the jury would hear that Mr Sackalausks returned to the deceased’s house and covered him with a duvet and arising from this medical assistance was sought.
The prosecution has also alleged that in the course of the assault on the deceased, an assault was also carried out by the two co-accused on Mr Sildars.
“It appears Mr Sackalausks went back to the house and gardai then assembled a search of that address,” said counsel.
The jury will hear that the Shaw Park address was also searched and footwear including a sock was obtained by gardai.
In conclusion, Mr Greene told the court that it is the prosecution’s contention that the jury will be satisfied that each of the two co-accused “are guilty of murder and offences of assault causing harm.”
This afternoon prosecution counsel Mr Greene called Garda Greg Kelleher, who was attached to Tullow Garda Station, to give evidence.
The court heard that Gda Kelleher got a phone call from a Latvian woman on the morning of September 16, 2014 and she advised him to go to a house at Graigowen, Tullow, Co Carlow.
The witness told Mr Greene that upon arriving at the house, the door was open and he went in.
“When I pushed the door open I could see a man lying on the kitchen floor, he was lying face up with a duvet covering half his body. I could see this man had a number of bruises to his head and a pool of blood around his body and head. I believed this man was dead,” he said.
The court heard that this man was Mr Intembergs and he had a t-shirt on him which was “half burnt.”
Gda Kelleher said another man was sitting in the sitting room and he was highly intoxicated.
A local practitioner soon arrived and pronounced Mr Intembergs dead.
The prosecution also called Sergeant Pat Slater, who was attached to Tullow Garda Station, to give evidence.
He told the court that Mr Sildars face was “visibly swollen” and his head was “covered in blood.”
“Mr Intembergs was unclothed from the waist down, his t-shirt looked like it had been burnt and there was what looked like scorch marks on his body,” he said.
The trial continues before Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy and a jury of five men and seven women. It is expected to last three weeks.