Man accused of murder told gardai he was victim of domestic abuse

Man accused of murder told gardai he was victim of domestic abuse
Desmond Duffy (70) of Somerville Park, Rathmines, Dublin, arrives at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin today. He has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Des Sullivan (59) at their home in May, 2016. Pic Collins Courts.

by Eoin Reynolds 087 178 1346

A 70-year-old man told gardai he was the victim of domestic violence and abuse for years from his partner whom he is accused of murdering.

Desmond 'Des' Duffy has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Desmond 'Dessie' Sullivan (59) at the home they shared in Somerville Park, Rathmines, Dublin 6 on May 23, 2016. He is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Detective Inspector Martin O'Neill today told prosecuting counsel Conor Devally SC that he interviewed Mr Duffy at a garda station on May 24, 2016. During those interviews Det Insp O'Neill agreed that Mr Duffy told him he had been in a violent and abusive relationship with the deceased for many years.

He said Mr Sullivan was a heavy drinker and cannabis user and had become more psychotic and paranoid over the years.

The accused further told gardai that he had previously ended up in A&E after Mr Sullivan threw bleach over him. On other occasions he said Mr Sullivan poured milk over him, hit him with a mug leaving him with a scar on his head, poured a pint over him and, at his brother's funeral, emptied a basket of sausages and chips over his head. Years earlier Mr Duffy said he required stitches after Mr Sullivan attacked him.

On the night of May 23, he said, they had been drinking in a local pub and shortly after they arrived home Mr Sullivan started attacking him in the kitchen. Mr Duffy went to bed hoping to avoid a violent episode but, he told gardai, Mr Sullivan pulled the bed clothes off him and started punching him. Mr Duffy said he went to the kitchen to get his jacket as he wanted to leave and stay in a hotel, as he had done on previous occasions.

But his jacket was not there and Mr Sullivan told him he had hidden it and began taunting Mr Duffy, saying: "Fuck off and go stay in your hotel."

The argument continued for about 40 to 50 minutes with occasional breaks. Mr Sullivan had a can of guinness and rolled a joint over that period. In the kitchen Mr Duffy said the deceased attacked him again and he tried to restrain Mr Sullivan, to prevent him punching, by reaching out his right hand, putting his arm around Mr Sullivan's neck and pushing Mr Sullivan against a wall.

Mr Sullivan fell to the ground and stopped moving. Mr Duffy was worried so he called Garda Maurice Ward, a relative of the deceased. Gda Ward has previously told the trial that Mr Sullivan was dead when he arrived at about 10.45pm, about 30 minutes after receiving the call.

Gardai asked Mr Duffy if he checked on Mr Sullivan during this time and he said he didn't, that he was in a state of shock. When they asked why he didn't call an ambulance he said he was very drunk, not thinking rationally and didn't think Mr Sullivan was injured. He added: "I certainly didn't think he was dead."

Garda Michael Cunningham told Mr Devally that in October 2013 he responded to a report of a domestic dispute at the home of Mr Duffy and Mr Sullivan. Mr Sullivan told him that they were a couple for 35 years, had been in an argument and during that argument Mr Sullivan told him that he threw bleach at Mr Duffy. He further told Gda Cunningham that arguments had become more common in their relationship.

Katie Daffy, a neighbour, told defence counsel Caroline Biggs SC that she overheard heated arguments between the two men every two to three months. She said it seemed to her that Mr Sullivan was usually the aggressor but on the night Mr Sullivan died she noted that both men were equally abusive and it sounded like Mr Duffy had "snapped" and argued back. The only words she could make out in the argument were Mr Sullivan saying: "Why would I be angry, why would I be angry."

Justice Paul McDermott told the jury of six men and six women that the trial will continue on Monday.

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