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Defense asks jury to keep feelings of revulsion and anger in check

Forensic gardai at the scene where the body was found in a house in Tullow, Co Carlow. Inset: Victim Gints Intembergs (Pic: Independent.ie)
Forensic gardai at the scene where the body was found in a house in Tullow, Co Carlow. Inset: Victim Gints Intembergs (Pic: Independent.ie)

The barrister for a Wexford man charged with murder has asked his trial jury to keeps its feelings of revulsion and anger in check during deliberations.

Michael Delaney SC was giving his closing speech to the Central Criminal Court yesterday in the trial of his 53-year-old client, Liam Power.

Mr Power, of no fixed abode, is charged with murdering 41-year-old Gints Intembergs at the deceased man’s home in Graigowen, Tullow, Co Carlow.

He has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter on the 15th or 16th of September, 2014. The trial has heard that Mr Intembergs, a Latvian man, was found dead on his kitchen floor.

The Wexford native has also pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm on another man, Aigar Sildars, on the same occasion.

Mr Delaney told the jurors that the challenge for them was to keep their ‘feelings of, perhaps, revulsion and anger’ in check.

Hi client had told gardai that he had punched the deceased and stamped on him numerous times. The court also heard that he tried to set fire to the deceased.

“The aftermath of the assault on Mr Intembergs - I’m talking about him trying to set fire to his private parts and clothing, followed by theft - These were undoubtedly gratuitous and despicable,” he said.

However, he asked them to not allow their revulsion and horror to influence them.

“There’s no reason or logic to that kind of barbaric behaviour,” he said. “But the fact it’s barbaric isn’t a reason to convict him of murder.”

He said the jury had to decide between murder and manslaughter. He suggested that his client did not have the necessary intent for murder when he struck the first blow, which could have killed him.

“Even if he did have that intention, have the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not provoked?” he asked, raising the partial defence of provocation.

He pointed to Mr Power’s assertion that he had ‘lost the head’ when the deceased had insulted him by slapping him after an arm wrestle.

He asked the jury to consider the evidence of a forensic psychiatrist, who said his client had maladaptive traits.

“We suggest that meant that Mr Power was someone, who was easily provoked,” said the barrister.

He said that, regarding the assault charge, the evidence served to undermine his client’s confession of a similar assault Mr Sildars. He pointed to the injuries, which included a cut to Mr Sildars’ forehead and swollen eyes.

He asked for a verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter on the first count and not guilty on the second count.

The prosecutor had earlier pointed out that Mr Power had neither a mental illness nor mental disorder, but had low tolerance for frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression.

“Please don’t be seduced by Mr Power’s assertions which, in my view, are self serving,” urged Paul Greene SC.

“He might have been upset or annoyed, but he hadn’t lost control,” he said, referring to a necessary element for a defence of provocation.

“In the course of his sadistic behaviour in respect of the late Mr Intembergs…., he also found the time to assault the other man,” he said.

“The safe and correct verdict in this case is to find the accused man guilty of murder,” he said.

Mr Power had been on trial with another man, but the State dropped the murder charge against him. The 33-year-old man then pleaded guilty to the assault causing harm charge.

Dzintars Sackalausks of Barrowvale, Graiguecullen, Co Carlow had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Intembergs. He had also pleaded not guilty to assaulting Mr Sildars, causing him harm on the same occasion.

The State dropped the murder charge against him on Wednesday and he returned to court on the second charge yesterday. However he then entered a guilty plea to that charge and will be sentenced at a later date.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy will charge the jury of five men and seven women in relation to Mr Power tomorrow morning.