Dublin man accused of manslaughter following Paddy's Day dispute

Paul Brannigan
Paul Brannigan

A young Dublin man has gone on trial for the manslaughter of another man outside a flat the morning after St Patrick's Day last year.

Colm O'Briain SC, prosecuting, told the jury there would be evidence that Paul Brannigan (24) hit Jason Saunders to the chest with a golf club and this caused fatal interference with the man's heart.

Mr Brannigan, of Ratoath Drive, Finglas, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the manslaughter of Mr Saunders at Nassau Avenue, Cabra West on March 18, 2014.

He has further pleaded not guilty to assaulting Mr Saunders causing him harm and to producing a golf club in the course of a dispute at the same date and location.

In his opening address, Mr O'Briain said the jury would hear that Mr Saunders arrived at the accused's flat in a taxi about 6am and that the two men had a dispute outside under an hour later.

Counsel said there would be evidence that words were exchanged between the two men, that Mr Brannigan head-butted Mr Saunders and then struck him to the left side of his chest with the club.

Mr O'Briain told the jury that CCTV footage showed some aspects of the dispute and its aftermath.

He said there would be evidence that Mr Saunders stumbled a number of yards and fell face forward onto the ground.

He said the jury would hear that two nurses on their way to work tended to Mr Saunders and that an ambulance arrived shortly after, but he was pronounced dead by 8.30am.

Mr O'Briain said the Chief State Pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy, would tell the jury that the blow to the chest occurred at such a precise time that it fatally interfered with Mr Saunders heart.

Counsel suggested to the jury that from the proposed evidence, Mr Saunders was “extremely unlucky” that the alleged blow had a fatal effect. He added that the prosecution was not saying that Mr Brannigan had intended to kill Mr Saunders.

A witness who had been managing a nearby Central store told Mr O Briain that he saw Mr Saunders stumble past the shop window just before 7am.

Aidan Kenna told Mr O'Briain that he had earlier seen Mr Saunders, whom he knew, arrive in a taxi and head to the party at Mr Brannigan's former flat.

Mr Kenna said he went outside to check on Mr Saunders and saw him face down on the road with the litre bottle of vodka he had been holding smashed underneath him.

Mr Kenna said that the accused asked him to delete CCTV footage as Mr Saunders was being tended to on the ground.

He agreed with Conor Devally SC, defending, that Mr Brannigan had asked this in an “ordinary” way and that there had been nothing intimidating about his manner.

He further agreed that the accused had looked shocked at what was happening. The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan and a jury of six women and six men.