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Man was stabbed to death in north Dublin over €100 drug debt, court hears

William Gilsenan
William Gilsenan

A man was stabbed to death after he threatened to burn down the house of the man accused of his murder during a row over a €100 drug debt, a witness has told the Central Criminal Court.

William Gilsenan (24), of The Green, Larch Hill, Oscar Traynor Road, Santry, Dublin 17 has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Edward Fitzgerald (29) in the car park outside the accused's home on October 17, 2014.

Giving evidence today Charlie Brodigan told prosecuting counsel Orla Crowe SC that he was in college with Mr Gilsenan that morning. They finished in the early afternoon, went to the gym and then took a taxi together to the accused's home.

When he arrived he noticed two people in a car looking at him and then the driver, whom he later knew to be Mr Fitzgerald, got out and started arguing with Mr Gilsenan.

He said the argument was over e100 that Mr Gilsenan owed to Mr Fitzpatrick. The witness knew about the debt, which was for marijuana.

"It started off calm and then started getting aggressive because your man [the deceased] obviously wanted his money." He said they threatened one another and it looked as if they were going to fight.

He said Mr Fitzpatrick told the accused: "I want my money or you're going to get a slap." The witness added: "It was what anyone would say if you owed money to them."
 
Mr Gilsenan walked away and went with the witness to the apartment in The Green. Mr Brodigan said they wanted to smoke a joint but they had no cigarette papers so they decided to go to Shane Cullen's apartment, which was also in The Green. As they walked over Mr Fitzpatrick, now back in the driver's seat of the car, called out to Mr Gilsenan. The accused approached the open passenger side window and the argument flared up again.
 
He said the deceased then threw a punch at Mr Gilsenan through the window. "Then Willy went around to the driver's side of the car," he said. "I seen what I thought was a little fight, I thought they were exchanging digs. It was all over before I got to the car."
 
 
He said Mr Gilsenan just walked away and that was the end of it. The witness did not know that Mr Fitzgerald had been stabbed. They went to Mr Cullen's house, where Mr Gilsenan was given a loan of a bike and he cycled to his father's house. Mr Brodigan became aware of the seriousness of the incident when he saw paramedics arriving.
 
He agreed with defending counsel Caroline Biggs that in a statement to gardai he said he heard Mr Fitzgerald say that he would smash the accused's house and burn it down and that he would burn his mother's house down. He said he also heard him threaten Mr Gilsenan.
 
He said that Mr Gilsenan was "shaken" and "white in the face" after the first confrontation, adding: "He didn't really know what to do." He also agreed that in his statement to gardai he said that Mr Fitzgerald had started the row.
 
Shane Cullen then took the stand and said that he witnessed the fight from his balcony. He said he loaned Mr Gilsenan a bike and later that evening he received a text from the accused saying "How is it up there?"
 
When he responded that the area was cordoned off, Mr Gilsenan replied: "Yeah right." He told Ms Biggs that he got the impression Mr Gilsenan did not believe him and thought he was joking.
 
A neighbour, George Magdalena, said that he witnessed the fight and that he saw the accused man punch and kick the deceased repeatedly in the head and body. When Ms Biggs told him that the pathologist's evidence would show no injuries to Mr Fitzgerald's head he replied: "That is what I saw."
 
The trial continues tomorrow in front of Justice Paul Butler and a jury of seven women and five men.