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Naas killing Murder trial witness says victim was hit twice with baseball bat, court hears

Ms Piercy was on Wednesday giving evidence in the trial of Mr Almasi, who is accused of murdering Joseph 'Jo Jo' Dunne in May 2014

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A 20-year-old man was hit twice in the head with a baseball bat, including once while he was prone on the ground, a murder trial witness has told the Central Criminal Court.

However, witness Alannah Piercy disagreed with counsel for the accused man Zoltan Almasi that her evidence of a second strike was "completely made up".

Ms Piercy was on Wednesday giving evidence in the trial of Mr Almasi, a Serbian-born man living in Kildare, who is accused of murdering Joseph 'Jo Jo' Dunne in Kildare in May 2014.

Mr Almasi (49) of Harbour View, Naas, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the murder of Mr Dunne but guilty to his manslaughter on the night of May 16, 2014, at Harbour View, Naas.

Ms Piercy told Ms Caroline Biggs SC, prosecuting, that she saw a man strike Mr Dunne and that she heard a "shatter" when Mr Dunne was struck with the bat on the back-left of his head.

The witness said that she approached Mr Dunne as he lay on the ground after the attack but that the deceased could not talk and only "mumble", before people from a nearby restaurant came on the scene. 

"I knew he was dead, I knew he killed him," a tearful Ms Piercy told counsel.

Ms Piercy said that she could not describe the male who hit Mr Dunne but said that the bat was "black with a blue top".

The incident happened after a group of young people met up at the Abbey Bridge in Naas on the night, before moving towards Harbour View in the town.

The court has heard that Mr Dunne either "jostled" or "punched" a van belonging to Mr Almasi who then emerged from his home and chased Mr Dunne with a baseball bat shortly after 10.15pm.

The witness said she was on the road at Harbour View when the incident occurred and she could see that 'Jo Jo' had been struck at the side of the head, towards the left side of his skull.

Defending barrister Mr Barra McGrory QC, in cross-examination, asked the witness if she saw the male chase Mr Dunne with a raised bat, to which the witness agreed.

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Ms Piercy told Mr McGrory that after a first strike to the head of Mr Dunne, the pursuing male then struck a prone Mr Dunne for the second time in the "exact same place" on the side of the head.

The witness said that she was between two cars on the road at the time and that she was "in shock" at what she witnessed.

Mr McGrory asked Ms Piercy if she would agree she gave a different account to gardaí when giving her statement on May 18, 2014, when she described only one "wallop at the back of the head and neck area" of Mr Dunne. The witness did not reply.

Mr McGrory said that Ms Piercy had also described a different type of strike to the head when giving her evidence to the jury on Wednesday where she described more of a "swiping", lateral motion, regarding the strike to the head.

After an emotional Ms Piercy disagreed with this contention, the court took a 10-minute break.

When the court resumed, Mr McGrory said that in her statement to gardaí Ms Piercy said that she could not see Mr Dunne on the ground and only described one strike to the deceased, to which the witness agreed. 

Counsel put it to Ms Piercy that she "added" a second strike and suggested to the witness that the reason for this was to have the same account as other witnesses she was friendly with.

A tearful Ms Piercy could not respond and Mr McGrory told Mr Justice Michael White that the witness was "upset".

Counsel asked the witness if she was drinking on the night of May 2016 and was told by Ms Piercy that she was "not a drinker".

Mr McGrory said that the witness' evidence of a second strike was "completely made up", to which Ms Piercy said: "I know what I saw."

In re-examination, Ms Biggs put it to the witness that she told the truth to gardaí to the best of her ability and had told them that a jeep had obscured her view at the moment Mr Dunne fell to the ground, to which the witness agreed.

Another witness, Ms Michaela Walker, told Ms Biggs that she was also present on the night and arrived at the bridge between 7.45-50pm, where the others were drinking.

Ms Walker said that she had been on her way to her Friday night youth club when she met the group and that Mr Dunne had been "polite and friendly".

Mr Dunne and Ms Walker had gone for a walk and Mr Dunne had "leaned in for a kiss" but she leaned away.

Ms Walker said that she and Mr Dunne then went back to the group where the boys were smashing glasses and drinking.

Ms Walker said she saw Mr Dunne pick up the top of a broken bottle and put it in his pocket before she went to McDonald's with another friend and returned home for 10.30pm.

The trial in front of a jury of four women and seven men continues on Thursday and is expected to last four weeks.

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