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Manslaughter accused swung golf club at victim "a number of times", court hears

Paul Brannigan
Paul Brannigan

A jury in a manslaughter trial has heard from various witnesses who arrived on the scene to assist the victim and has viewed CCTV footage leading up to the incident.

Paul Brannigan (24) of Ratoath Drive, Finglas, Dublin has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the manslaughter of Jason Saunders at Fassaugh 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.

One witness, a local shop-keeper, told the jury that the Mr Brannigan asked him “to delete that camera for us?”, referring to his CCTV camera, after the man had informed him that the deceased, Mr Saunders, was “in a bad way”.

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

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.

Kevin Coffey, store manager of Spar on Fassaugh Avenue, said he saw a scuffle between Mr Brannigan and Mr Saunders, when he left the shop after hearing shouting outside.

He saw the accused head-butt Mr Saunders before he violently swung a golf club at him a number of times. The victim walked away and Mr Brannigan returned to his flat.

Mr Coffey said he went back into the shop but later noticed a fellow shop-keeper Aidan Kenna, out on the road leaning over someone. He went out a few moments later and was returning to the shop again when he met the accused.

He told the jury that Mr Brannigan asked him “What's wrong with him?”, referring to Mr Saunders.

He replied that the man was in a bad way and he said Brannigan replied “I only head-butted him”.

Mr Coffey told Mr O'Briain that the accused then said; “Delete that camera for us, will you?” but he agreed that this was not said in a threatening way.

The jury were shown a compilation disc of CCTV footage taken from the Spar and Centra shop, The Cabra House pub, Cabra Garda Station and the camera on board a Dublin Bus.

The jury were directed to the relevant point in the footage and while Mr O'Briain said it was up to the jurors what impression they formed of it, he asked them to focus particularly on where Mr Saunders fell.

Melissa Lanigan, a nurse at the Mater Private Hospital, told the jury that she lifted Mr Saunder's top to begin cardiac compressions and noticed that he had a raised blue bruise below his nipple line stretching about eight inches across. She said his teeth appeared broken and there was blood in his mouth.

Lorna Nangle, also a nurse, said Mr Saunders never regained consciousness. She described his pallor as blue, which she said indicated a lack of oxygen and said his pupils were fixed and dilated.

The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan and a jury of six women and six men.

Ms Lanigan said she was one her way to work that morning, when she noticed Mr Saunders lying on the ground surrounded by a group of people and pulled her car over to assist.

She said she heard someone say they could hear the man breathing but she heard a rasping sound coming from Mr Saunders and told the group “that's not breathing”.

Ms Lanigan realised she had to clear the man's air way so she got down beside him to administer CPR. She gave him mouth to mouth, after noting that the man had no pulse.

Another witness and a former colleague of Ms Lanigan's, Lorna Nangle, began cardiac compressions.

Ms Lanigan said Mr Saunders began to breath and his pulse came back but he went blue almost immediately and stopped breathing again. She and Ms Nangle began another cycle of CPR.

Another man arrived and helped out with the chest compressions.

Ms Lanigan told Mr O'Briain that Mr Saunders never established stable breathing or a pulse.

An ambulance crew arrived and they took over the resuscitation of Mr Saunders. Ms Lanigan told the jury that she spoke to Mr Saunders after establishing his name but there was never a sign of him being conscious or responding in any way.