‘I would say there was brain’, murder trial hears

A witness has told a Wicklow murder trial that he thought he saw brain when he checked on a man he had seen being beaten on the side of a road.

Paul Duffy was giving evidence to the Central Criminal Court yesterday in the trial of a Wicklow man charged with murdering his best friend with a rock.

Thomas O’Connor, aged 29, of Burnaby Court, Greystones, is charged with murdering John O’Brien, 22, who was from Burnaby Lawns in Greystones on June 4, 2010.

The father of one pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to Mr O’Brien’s manslaughter at Farrankelly Rd, Delgany, Co Wicklow.

Mr Duffy testified that he, his wife and 11-year-old daughter were on their way home from a birthday party in Greystones that night.

They drove through the Farrankelly roundabout some time after 11.45pm.

“As we drove by, on the left-hand side, we noticed a man lying on the ground and there was another man standing over him and hitting him in the head,” he recalled. “He had one leg on either side of the man’s shoulders and was striking down with his right hand.” He said he didn’t see the man on the ground move.

He said he saw the man, who was standing, hit the other man about four times. He sounded his horn, rang the gardaí and did a U-turn:

“Just the man lying on the ground was still there.

“I could see he was badly injured. There was quite a lot of head wounds,” he explained. “I would say there was brain. There was a mixture of grey and blood.”

Earlier, the Deputy State Pathologist held up a rock, which he said could have been the implement that shattered his skull and caused the catastrophic brain injury that killed him.

Dr Michael Curtis had carried out a postmortem exam on Mr O’Brien’s body. He testified that he had died as a result of a catastrophic head injury, that his skull had an extensive comminuted or shatter fracture and laceration of the meninges.

He said his brain was markedly swollen and showed severe bruising and lacerations. His right cheekbone was fractured and his left ear lacerated.

“Overall, the pattern of injuries would be due to blunt force trauma to the head,” he said, adding that death would have been rapid.

The trial has already heard that the accused admits hitting Mr O’Brien over the head with a rock.

The trial continues.

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