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Murderer tried to set man's penis on fire after stamping on his head and testicles

Gints Intembergs
Gints Intembergs

A 53-year-old Wexford man has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering a 41-year-old on whom he stamped repeatedly before attempting to burn him after the deceased beat him in an arm wrestle.

"I frightened myself, I was like an animal," he told detectives

The Central Criminal Court trial heard that Latvian man Gints Intembergs was found dead on his kitchen floor in Co Carlow on the morning of September 16th, 2014

Liam Power, of no fixed abode, had pleaded not guilty to murder on that or the previous day, but he pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the deceased man’s home in Graigowen, Tullow

He had pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm on another man, Aigar Sildars, on the same occasion, and was cleared of that crime yesterday.

Liam Power

Power told his landlady that the deceased had beaten him in an arm wrestling match and had said: ‘You’re not such a big man now’, slapping him across the face.

He told her he had hit the deceased over the head with an ashtray and had kept kicking him in the head and face.

He told gardaí that he had punched the deceased and stamped on him numerous times and had done ‘about half’ as much to Mr Sildars. Mr Sildars did not know how he had sustained a bruised eye and cut forehead when gardaí woke him on arrival at the house.

“I was in Tullow last night. Things got out of control. I kicked the head off him. Look at my runners,” he said when arrested. “Shit happens and I lost the head. What can I do? That’s all I can say.”

His garda interviews were delayed due to him being so intoxicated; he said he had drunk about 16 cans of cider and smoked crack cocaine in the hours before the killing.

When he was interviewed, he said he had hit Mr Intembergs a ‘haymaker on the chin’, causing him to fall to the floor.

He said he then kicked him 10 or 11 times while he was on the floor, before removing the victim’s clothes.

"I don't know what I was thinking," he said.

He said he used a lighter to try to set fire to the hair on the man's ‘privates’.

"I was off my head," he replied, when asked why he wanted to burn him.

Power said he had also kicked Mr Sildars, who was in the sitting-room. He said the attack on both men lasted 20 minutes and that he went back and forth from the kitchen to the sitting-room, kicking them both.

He said he had help from another man, Dzintars Sacklausks, who also went on trial with him at the end of October.

The 33-year-old of Barrowvale, Graiguecullen, Co Carlow had pleaded not guilty to both murdering Mr Intembergs and assaulting Mr Sildars, causing harm.

However, the State dropped the murder charge against him two weeks into the trial. He then pleaded guilty to the assault charge and will be sentenced later.

He had told gardaí that Power had stamped on the deceased man’s head and testicles numerous times.

The court heard that patterns of bruises on the deceased’s body matched the pattern of Power’s runners and that the DNA profile from blood on one runner matched Mr Intemberg’s. A forensic scientist testified that the blood patterns on the runner could be created by kicking actions.

An autopsy by the State Pathologist found that Mr Intembergs died of blunt force trauma to his head and neck following a ‘violent and sustained assault’. Professor Marie Cassidy testified that many of his injuries had a pattern such as from the sole of a shoe, ‘as in stamping’.

His nose was flattened, one of his teeth was broken and he had a fractured rib.

There was fire damage to his body, arm and penis but this attempted burning appeared to have been ‘peri or post-mortem’.

The head trauma had caused the tearing of blood vessels on the surface of the brain. Any rapid movement of the brain could have caused this

The tearing resulted in ‘a massive blood clot’ inside the skull cavity and this had compressed his brain, causing death. He might have lain unconscious for hours before his death.

She could not say which blow had caused his death but explained that stamping would not generally cause movement of the brain.

The deceased had a blood ethanol level of 340mg per cent and Prof Cassidy explained that death could occur from that level of alcohol alone.

She also explained that being so drunk would increase the likelihood of movement of the head

Power’s barrister asked the jurors to keep in check any feelings of revulsion

Michael Delaney SC asked for a verdict of manslaughter by reason of provocation. He asked the jury to consider the evidence of his low IQ and maladaptive traits, which he said meant his client was easily provoked.

He said that Mr Sildars’s minor injuries had undermined his client’s confession of assaulting him.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy also told them to have due regard to the absence of corroboration on that count.

“In the past, admissions have proved to be unreliable,” she said.

The jury of five men and seven women began considering the verdicts on Monday. They had spent six hours and 10 minutes deliberating before unanimously finding the accused not guilty on the assault charge yesterday.

They were then given the option of reaching a majority verdict and had deliberated for a total of 14 hours and 38 minutes before reaching the guilty verdict with a majority of 10 to two.

Conor O’Doherty BL, prosecuting, said there would not be any victim impact statement in the case.

Power stood as Justice Kennedy imposed the mandatory life sentence on him and backdated it to September 18th, 2014. Dressed in a grey suit and pink shirt, he was then led away by prison officers.