Murder accused's 'tale of self-defence' an 'insult to your intelligence', State barrister tells jury

The jurors in the trial of a man, charged with murdering his flatmate, have been told that his "tale of self defence" was an insult to their intelligence.

Anthony Sammon SC was giving his closing speech for the State today on the 10th day of his murder trial at the Central Criminal Court.

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 57-year-old Latvian has pleaded not guilty to murdering the Lithuanian father-of-one, who was also his colleague.

The accused told gardaí that he had come home to find his flatmate with serious injuries, but the father-of-two has since told the jury that he inflicted them.

He testified that Mr Burba called him into his darkened bedroom in the middle of the night and began swinging a wooden table leg at him.

He said he managed to disarm Mr Burba, but that Mr Burba continued to come at him with his fists.

He said he then swung the table leg at him until the deceased shouted stop.

Mr Sammon said that ‘this new scenario’ did not stand up to scrutiny.

“I suggest that what Mr Labunskis has told you is an insult to your intelligence,” he said.

He said that by not telling the gardai that ‘everything happened in the context of this tale of self defence’, the gardai were unable to carry out certain investigations.

He described his new version of events introduced on Friday as ‘an ambush’ of the prosecution case. However, he pointed out that the prosecution was entitled to use an ‘inferential provision’ and asked the jury to draw an inference.

“The inference the prosecution asks you to draw is that this new version of events is a fabrication, a falsehood,” he said.

He described as elaborate the lies he had told investigating gardaí. He noted that the accused could provide no reason for those lies in court, but he suggested that the accused knew why he had lied.

“He knew that he had murdered Mr Burba and was seeking to avoid the criminal liability for being the murderer,” he suggested.

Michael Bowman SC, defending, asked the jurors to place themselves in the position in which his client had found himself, ‘in a darkened room, knowing what he knew or believing what he believed’.

He pointed to an incident at their workplace in the East City Garage, which he described as ‘an irregular place of employment, where drinking on the job was certainly not condemned’.

“Rather peculiarly, there’s a sauna in there,” he noted, adding that it sounded a little unconventional.

“It was popular and seemed to draw quite a crowd of people, who would come in and drink hard liquour,” he said.

He pointed out that the deceased had taken an iron bar to Mr Labunski in that garage a few days earlier.

“It happened when Mr Labunskis was crouching down and this man came from behind him,” he said.

He noted that a witness in the trial had to intervene and that the deceased had been told to sleep it off in a car.

“This speaks of a spontaneous act of aggression by the deceased with an implement requiring the intervention of a third party,” said the barrister.

He said that ‘the exact same thing’ had happened on the night in question, but in the confined space of Mr Burba’s bedroom.

“He certainly cannot rely on someone else coming to his aid as happened previously,” said Mr Bowman.

“He must engage as best he can with a view to saving himself and getting out of there.”

He said that, having taken the table leg from him, his client had swung out, perhaps motivated by self preservation.

He asked who could not have sympathy for Mr Burba, a man, who came to our country for a better life.

“Who could not have sympathy for a man, who ends up dying on a bedroom floor in a house that is about to be repossessed by being bludgeoned with the leg of a table?” he asked.

However, he also asked them to park their sympathy.

Ms Justice Deirdre McCarthy will begin charging the jury of three women and nine men tomorrow morning.

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