Grandparents of Dean Kerrie say he was defending his mother and should not be jailed
Dean Kerrie was 17 when he fatally stabbed fisherman Jack Power after the deceased man smashed in the front window of his home
The grandparents of a young man found guilty of manslaughter for stabbing to death a man who broke into his home, say they do not believe he deserves to go to jail.
Dean Kerrie was 17 years old when he fatally stabbed fisherman Jack Power (25) after the deceased man smashed in the front window of his home in Shanakiel, Dunmore East, Waterford, at 3am on July 26, 2018 and entered the property.
Kerrie, now 21, who said Power had attacked both him and his mother after entering the property, was found guilty of manslaughter but not guilty of murder at the Central Criminal Court on Wednesday.
On Sunday, Dean’s grandparents, Tom and Dolly – with whom he has lived since the killing four years ago – said the fact her grandson had made a 999 call to seek help for Jack Power showed he had no intent or desire to kill him.
“He only picked up that knife to scare him,” Dolly told the Sunday World at the couple’s home in Portarlington on Friday.
“He didn’t mean to stab him. That was picked up to frighten him into letting his mother go.
“At the end of the day, Dean was in bed. A door was kicked in on top of him.
“If he was a blackguard, he would have left him outside the door to die and he wouldn’t have rang any guard or ambulance.”
Dean’s grandfather Tom said he had believed that the killing would be considered “self-defence.”
“He was only 17 years of age and Jack Power was a big man,” he said. “I didn’t have it down as manslaughter. I had it down as self-defence.
“He was defending his own mother at 17 years of age against a man 25 years of age. There was a big difference in size. He (Power) was no small man.”
During this month-long trial – the second trial in six months after a previous jury failed to reach a verdict – varying accounts emerged of the circumstances leading up to death of Jack Power.
The court heard how, after Dean was arrested, he told Sgt Pat Kenny: “He should not have come into my house. I was asleep. I heard a smash and the front window breaking.
“Jack was in the hall and grabbed my mother. He started punching and swinging kicks. I grabbed a knife that was next to the bed. Stabbed him with it.”
Sgt Kenny said Dean was holding a bottle of holy water as he spoke.
The trial heard Mr Power had been drinking with friends in a local pub and when he left the premises he saw damage to the wing mirror of his car and believed Kerrie was responsible.
He drove to an area near to where Dean lived, picked up a rock and used it to smash one of the front windows of his house.
There were differing accounts of what happened next.
The jury heard a 999 call made by Kerrie at 3.44am on July 26, in which the teenager said Mr Power had come “in the front door at him” and tried to hit him. He said he had stabbed Mr Power in the chest with a kitchen knife but that he did not mean to.
The deceased’s best friend, Christopher Lee, said he saw Mr Power going into the garden of the Kerrie house.
The witness said after a row that started in the garden spilled into the house, Power was retreating from the house.
“Jack was nearly at the front door. Jack turned around and I noticed Dean moving fast and saw a knife in his hand. I saw Dean push his hand towards Jack’s chest. Jack was only after turning around and this happened straight away,” he said.
Dean Kerrie’s best friend, Dylan Jones, was called by the defence and gave a different account of the incident.
He told defence counsel Ciaran O’Loughlin SC that he was staying the night at the Kerrie home when he was awoken by the sound of glass smashing.
When the witness got up he said he saw a man, who he now knows to have been Mr Power, enter through the front door.
“He appeared to be drunk, he was kind of stumbling,” he said. “He approached and pushed me against the wall and went into the bedroom and grabbed Dean.”
Mr Jones recalled seeing Mr Power “choking” Dean and saying: “I’m going to kill you.”
He said Dean’s mother, Ann Fitzgerald, was in the hallway next to the bedroom door when Mr Power grabbed her by the hair and “swung her side to side”, he said.
At this point, he said Mr Power stumbled backwards and then into the hallway and out the front door.
Mr Jones said he did not see a knife and did not see Mr Power being stabbed, but accepted that it must have happened just before Mr Power stumbled backwards.
In his summing up, Mr Justice Paul McDermott guided the jury that if the accused used excessive force but had an honest belief that the force he used was necessary, then he is not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
Speaking of the aftermath of the killing, Dean’s grandmother Dolly said it had completely changed her grandson.
“Dean came here the day after all this happened,” she said.
“He knew at that stage that Jack Power was dead and he was very upset about that.
“Dean was attending a psychologist in Portlaoise for over three years since that happened.
“He never ate properly since it happened.
“I wouldn’t have had nothing to do with Dean if he was a blackguard … he wouldn’t have been allowed in here.
“And Dean has lived here with us for the last four years. And we didn’t have an ounce of trouble with him.
“It (the killing) changed him.
“He was frightened by it – very very frightened.”
“He won’t go to Waterford because he’s afraid if he goes back down there he will get a beating.
He’s talking about going to England when he gets out.”
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