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Trial latest Man facing manslaughter charge 'feared for himself and child', before alleged attack, court told

Ronan Byrne (31) is alleged to have fractured James Marren's leg with a bat during an altercation

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Ronan Byrne

Ronan Byrne

Ronan Byrne

A manslaughter trial has heard the accused man told gardaí he feared for himself and for his child prior to the alleged assault with a baseball bat.

Ronan Byrne (31) is alleged to have fractured James Marren's leg with a bat during an altercation. A jury has heard that days after the man's leg was put in a cast at a hospital, a blood clot developed in his leg which travelled to his heart and this clot proved fatal.

Byrne, of Lohunda Downs, Clonsilla, Blanchardstown, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the unlawful killing of Mr Marren (57) at that address on October 31, 2013.

He also denies production of a baseball bat during a dispute and assault of James Marren causing him harm at the same address five days earlier on October 26, 2013.

The court heard the defendant's mother, Mairead Byrne, and Mr Marren had been in a relationship for at least 13 years.

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Ronan Byrne

Ronan Byrne

Ronan Byrne

On the fifth day of the trial on Wednesday, Inspector Gavin Ross told Philipp Rahn BL, prosecuting, that he received information regarding the death of Mr Marren and a garda investigation commenced.

Inspector Ross said the accused man was interviewed by gardaí on three occasions in the days following Mr Marren's death.

During an interview, a memo of which was read before the jury, Mr Byrne said that on the night of October 26, he was minding his daughter in the sitting room of the house at Lohunda Downs when Mr Marren returned to the house “very drunk”.

Mr Byrne said during the interview that Mr Marren began shouting abuse at him, pushing him and intimidating him. He said it was not safe for a child to be there and he went to the kitchen, where Mr Marren came in pushing and shouting.

The accused man said he ignored him and tried to get his child ready for bed. He said Mr Marren followed him into the child's bedroom shouting and that the accused got by him into the hallway.

He said Mr Marren grabbed him by the neck, he grabbed him back and they fell to the floor. He said he feared for himself and his child, that Mr Marren was going to hurt him as he had done countless times over the years.

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Mr Byrne said he ran towards a bedroom, grabbed a baseball bat just inside the door, turned and struck Mr Marren with it a few times. He said he ran out the door thinking Mr Marren was coming after him, then heard his child screaming and went back inside.

He said he asked his brother to pass him his daughter, then left the house with her. He said his brother and a neighbour went to check on Mr Marren and an ambulance was called.

Mr Byrne said he waited for the ambulance to leave before going back into the house, then brought his child to her mother. He said he went back to the house and packed his clothes as he knew he could not stay there and thought he was in danger of a revenge attack.

Gardai asked Mr Byrne during the interview where he had hit the deceased with the bat. He said he had hit him once or twice to the head and once or twice in the legs.

Mr Bryne said they could not have been “full swings” as the hallway was narrow. He said he was holding the bat in two hands and that it was not heavy.

Gardaí asked why he needed to hold it in two hands if it was not heavy. Mr Byrne said the deceased could have gotten the bat off him, that he was trying to defuse the situation and this was the first time he hit Mr Marren in the hundreds of times he had hit him.

Mr Byrne said the deceased had used objects to hit him in the past. He said he did not specifically aim for the deceased's head or legs, he just wanted to get him away from him.

He denied the deceased got him so angry that he lashed out with a bat and hit him “a fair few times”. He said he was not particularly angry, that he just wanted to defuse the situation and get his child out.

Mr Byrne denied that he could have “boxed” Mr Marren, saying that a couple of “boxes” would not have been enough as the deceased was a strong man.

Gardaí asked him whether he and Mr Marren got on. Mr Byrne said no, the deceased bullied and beat him for years.

The trial continues before Judge Patricia Ryan and a jury.

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