Trial of Dublin man accused of murder begins

The trial has begun of a Dublin man accused of killing another man then setting fire to the body in an abandoned mansion in Clontarf in August 2007.

Alan Walsh (aged 39) of 43 Edenmore Park in Coolock denies the murder of Dermot Sheridan at Red Court, Seafield Road East, Clontarf between August 8 and August 9 2007. He also denies arson at the same time and place.

Opening his case to the jury, prosecuting counsel Mr Michael Durack SC said that it was the State’s case that Mr Walsh had spent the day drinking in St Anne’s Park in Raheny with several other men.

At around 9 p.m. that night the accused, the deceased and one other man were seen on CCTV cameras heading towards the house which was lying vacant, waiting to be redeveloped. Neighbours saw lights in the house some time later.

Mr Durack said that the three men continued drinking in the house. Some time in the early hours of the morning an argument broke out between Mr Walsh and the deceased. It is the State’s case that Mr Walsh set fire to the kitchen of the house after killing Mr Sheridan.

Mr Durack said that at the time of the fire Mr Walsh was on the dole and drinking heavily. He was also taking medication for depression. He and Mr Sheridan both lived in Edenmore but did not know each other. The deceased man had worked for many years for B & I Ferries but had left work due to illness in 2006. At the time of his death he was receiving Disability Allowance and suffering from depression and seizures.

At 3.20a.m. on the night of the fire in Clontarf, Mr Walsh presented himself at Raheny Garda Station. He said he had attacked a man at the house before setting fire to it.

Mr Durack said that when gardaí and the fire brigade arrived at Red Court to tackle the blaze they found the badly burnt body of a man lying just inside the door of the kitchen.

Mr Thomas Fitzpatrick told the jury that he had met the accused man once or twice. He said he could not remember August 8 but remembered being in Red Court House. He said that he could remember at least one other man being there and a dog.

A “scuffle” had developed so he had gone up to the bedroom and brought the dog with him. He had fallen asleep but woken when a fire had broken out. He had jumped out of the upstairs window with the dog and left the dog.

The next day he had been brought to Clontarf Garda Station and questioned. He told Mr Erwan Mill-Arden SC that he did not know the accused well but had told gardai he seemed a “very peaceful and gentle sort”.

He said he had been homeless at the time of the incident and was in the habit of drinking during the day. On the night of August 8 he had had a lot to drink and did not remember the night very well.

The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Barry White and the jury of eight men and four women.

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