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Jury finds man not guilty of baseball bat murder in Swords

CourtsBy Natasha Reid
Jooda Akanbi was found not guilty of murder today
Jooda Akanbi was found not guilty of murder today

A father of four has been cleared of murdering a man with a baseball bat in broad daylight on a busy street in what one witness described as ‘like something out of Star Wars’.

A two-week trial at the Central Criminal Court heard that a fight broke out between two men with baseball bats shortly before lunchtime on October 10th, 2013 in a north Dublin town.
 
The 39-year-old murder accused claimed that he was acting in self defence when he hit the other man over the head with the bat on Main Street, Swords.

Jooda Akanbi (39) was charged with murdering 45-year-old Taiwo Jamani on November 13th, 2013, the date of his death in hospital due to a severe, traumatic brain injury.
 
Mr Akanbi of Ashton Avenue, Applewood in Swords had pleaded not guilty to murdering his fellow Nigerian.
 
The trial heard that both men had fallen out the year before the incident and no-longer saw each other. However, their paths crossed around 12.20pm, when Mr Akanbi drove his BMW 5 Series down Swords Main Street, passing the deceased on the footpath.
 
Mr Akanbi pulled into a parking spot further down the street, opened his boot, got out and went to the back of the car. He testified that he was getting documents out of the boot for a meeting.
 
Mr Jamani crossed the road to the accused, there was shouting and each man soon took a baseball bat out of the boot of the BMW.
 
Mr Akanbi said that the deceased was the first to raise his hand, punching him in the jaw before grabbing a bat. He testified that it was only then that he took the second bat out of the car.
 
The fight was brief and involved both men blocking each other with the bats. One witness described it as ‘like something out of Star Wars’.
 
By the time the emergency services arrived, Mr Jamani was lying on the ground behind the car.
 
He never recovered from the blunt force trauma to the head, which shattered the top of his skull and caused severe, traumatic brain injury. A pathologist testified that ‘considerable or severe force’ would have been needed to cause such injuries.
 
Mr Akanbi admitted striking his head with the bat and was arrested at the scene.
 
Despite the incident having taken place at a busy time on the main street, it was not captured on any of the 12 CCTV cameras in the area. Jurors had to decide what happened based on the testimony of witnesses and of Mr Jamani.
 
The prosecution argued for a verdict of guilty of murder, saying that the jury could be satisfied that the accused man caused Mr Jamani’s death and that, at the time, he intended to kill or seriously injure him.
 
The State said there was no self defence. In the event that the jurors could not reach such a verdict, the State said they should find him guilty of manslaughter at the least.
 
Mr Justice Tony Hunt explained that a verdict of manslaughter was open to them on two possible bases, including either that the accused had lacked the necessary mental intention or that he had used excessive self defence. He told them that if they reached this verdict, they must be agreed on the reason.
 
He said that they could acquit the accused completely if they thought that he had acted in self defence and used reasonable force. This is the verdict the defence asked for, suggesting manslaughter at the most.
 
The five women and seven men of the jury began considering their verdict on Thursday and had deliberated for more than seven hours and 10 minutes when they returned to court with their verdict of not guilty.
 
Justice Hunt thanked them for their service and exempted them from jury service for seven years.
 
He discharged the accused, who became emotional as he embraced his wife and left the courtroom.
 
There was no member of the deceased man’s family in court for the verdict.