Man charged with murdering his flatmate cries in witness box

A man charged with murdering his flatmate became emotional in court today as he described hearing the man scream when he hit him with the leg of a table.

He said he had taken it from the deceased, who had begun swinging it at him, after calling him into his darkened room in the middle of the night.

The 57-year-old was giving evidence in his defence today on the eighth day of his Central Criminal Court trial.

Arnis Labunskis, with an address at Wolfe Tone Street, Limerick City, is accused of murdering 39-year-old Dainius Burba in their house there on April 21 or 22, 2015.

The Latvian has pleaded not guilty to murdering the Lithuanian father of one, who was also his colleague.

He told Gardaí that he had found his flatmate almost dead, with blood coming from his head, when he arrived home to their unlocked house.

The jury heard yesterday that gardaíi had warned him that inferences could be drawn if he failed to mention any fact he would rely on in his defence.

The father of two then entered the witness box and explained that the deceased was supposed to have stayed with him for only a few days but had stayed longer. The house was also due to be vacated the following day.

He said he had been surprised to find Mr Burba there on arriving home from work on the evening of April 21, believing that he had already moved out, but said he had agreed to let him stay that night.

Mr Labunskis said that he had been washing his hands in the kitchen that night when the deceased had grabbed him from behind and torn his clothes.

He said he’d opened the door and told him to leave, but the deceased had run upstairs.

He said he decided to leave it and went to bed himself.

He said he went downstairs for a cigarette in the middle of the night and that Mr Burba called him on his way back up.

He said there was no light when he went into Mr Burba’s room, just ‘shadowy light’ from the window. He said the deceased pushed the door closed and he could see something his hand.

He said Mr Burba had told him: "I will show you now".

He said Mr Burba came towards him swinging something.

“I don’t know how I managed it. I can’t still explain it to myself, but I grabbed it and I was able to retrieve it from him,” he testified.

He said that Mr Burba then came at him with his fist and that he swung the object he had just taken.

“I don’t know how much time I was swinging the object, a minute maybe. I could feel I hit something somewhere, but where exactly I don’t know,” he said.

“Then he came very close to me and I just hit him and I can feel there’s something hard I’m hitting,” he continued, crying. “I hit once and there was a scream.”

He said that Mr Burba shouted:’ "Stop old man".

He said that he ran out into the corridor, turned on the light and saw that he was holding the leg of a table.

The trial continues before Ms Justice Deirdre McCarthy and a jury of three women and nine men.

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