Man accused of murdering his housemate for failing to bring home ribs

Man accused of murdering his housemate for failing to bring home ribs

A jury has begun deliberating in the trial of man charged with murdering his housemate in Laois, after the deceased failed to bring home ribs from the butcher.

The Central Criminal Court trial has heard that both men had spent the day drinking with another man in their house.

The two rowed after the 26-year-old deceased arrived home without the ribs the accused had told him to buy and he stabbed with a kitchen knife

Alexander Karpovs, who was originally from Latvia, died of a single stab wound to the heart at his home on Spa Street in Portarlington on February 15th, 2014.

Deivydas Zigelis, a 38-year-old Lithuanian, has pleaded not (NOT) guilty to his murder, but guilty to his manslaughter.

Both men worked as bin collectors during the week, but spent their weekends drinking alcohol in the house.

The jurors saw photographs of the debris-filled house and a garda testified that the only food he could see in the kitchen was a bag of sugar.

The prosecutor told the jurors not to let their ‘pathetic living circumstances’ affect their deliberations.

“They work as much as they can throughout the week and drink the weekends through. They live in squalor,” said Shane Costello SC in his closing speech.

“You cannot approach it from how pathetic, sad or demeaning their lives have been.”

He also warned the jury that intoxication was not a defence.

“That’s assuming you make a finding of fact that he was drunk,” he said, noting that the accused had said he was not drinking vodka due to a heart complaint and had drunk seven or eight cans of cider over as many hours.

“I must prove to you beyond a reasonable doubt that at the moment he plunged the knife into his chest, he had the intent (to kill or seriously harm),” he said.

“One of the things Mr Devally will urge upon you is that he didn’t have the intention because at the time he stuck the knife in he was drunk,” he said, referring to the defence barrister’s closing speech.

“A drunken intention is still an intention.”

He quoted the accused man’s account to gardai of what had happened when his housemate returned from the shops with cider.

“I took the cider and told him go back to the butcher and get the ribs,” he had said, explaining that his housemate had sat on the couch and refused to go back out.

“I got offended. I took a knife and hit him,” he continued. “I took the knife out of his body and put it beside the sink.”

CCTV footage showed Mr Karpovs enter a butcher’s shop that afternoon and leave empty handed.

“He didn’t do what he was told,” he remarked.

“He intended to kill or cause serious injury, even if only for a fraction of a second, even if drunk,” he concluded, asking for a guilty verdict.

Conor Devally SC, defending, suggested that the jurors might have grandparents familiar with emigration, even some who spoke only Irish and went to work on the buildings in England.

He noted that the Irish made up a third of the prison population in England in the 1940s and 1950s. He said that some landladies displayed signs reading: ‘No black. No Irish. No dogs’.

He said that many of those men, now ‘derelict’, could still be found wandering at tube stations.

He drew comparisons between the men sitting around drinking vodka and watching Russian films and the Irish wage packet on the bar of an English pub on a Friday night, a sing song in the corner.

He noted that his client had told gardai that it was not his intention to hurt his housemate and was puzzled as to how it happened.

The third man had said the accused seemed surprised to see blood and asked where it was coming from.

“The possibility he had no idea what he had done remains very active,” said Mr Devally.

“Intoxication is not being promoted as a defence,” he said, ‘Just that intent is absent.’

He read from a previous direction of a judge, who said that intoxication was material to the question of intent; it could prevent the accused having the intent.

The six women and six men of the jury deliberated for almost two hours before Mr Justice Paul Butler sent them home for the night. They will continue their deliberations tomorrow morning.