An internet café manager “savagely” kicked a customer to death outside the premises and gave him a V-sign as he lay dying on the ground following a row over a 70-cent phone call, a court was told yesterday.
At the Central Criminal Court last month, Zhen Dong Zhao, aged 40, had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Noel Fegan, 39, outside the e-Times internet café and call shop in Dublin city centre on May 20, 2011.
The plea was accepted by the State.
Zhao, of Jervis St, Dublin, was originally convicted of Mr Fegan’s murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2012.
However, that conviction was later overturned by the Court of Appeal earlier this year and a retrial was ordered.
Yesterday the Central Criminal Court was told how Mr Fegan had been on the ground and “crawling away on all fours” when the final blow was delivered.
Detective Garda Niall Riley agreed with Pauline Walley, prosecuting, that several eyewitnesses told investigating officers that Mr Fegan had been “trying to get back up” as Zhao kicked him “on the back, then on the leg and then the head on a number of occasions”.
Det Gda Riley agreed with counsel that one witness described how Zhao had kicked his victim above the neck “a number of times” before taking a “pause” after which he “casually” delivered his final kick to the Mr Fegan’s head.
One witness, the court was told, said the accused gave his victim a “two-finger salute” as he walked away from Mr Fegan who, by that point, was dying from his injuries on the pavement on Lower Wellington Quay.
Zhao, a Chinese national, was arrested minutes after the attack at 4.25pm.
Although Mr Fegan was pronounced dead inside St James’s Hospital at 5.05pm, it appeared that he had died at the scene, Ms Walley said.
A postmortem later revealed that the cause of death was a subarachnoid haemorrhage caused by blunt-force trauma resulting from kicks to Mr Fegan’s head and neck.
Earlier, Ms Walley told Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy that Mr Fegan was a recovering heroin addict who had been “savagely attacked by Mr Zhao”.
She said Mr Fegan, a father of two, had went to Zhao’s shop after receiving a ‘call me’ text message from his 12-year-old daughter on the day of the fatal attack.
She said: “Mr Fegan was anxious to make contact with his daughter. He went into the e-Times shop which was then being managed by Mr Zhao.
“Mr Fegan went to the phone booths at the back of the premises to contact his daughter.”
Describing how a row later broke out between the accused and the deceased “over payment of 70c”, Ms Walley said Mr Fegan had thrown some coins down on to the counter before slapping the accused and running out of the café with his friend.
The accused chased after the pair, pushed Mr Fegan the ground and began attacking him.
After his arrest, Zhao told gardaí he feared Mr Fegan was going to hurt him and that was why he attacked him, saying: “He hit me first. I was afraid he would get up.”
However, he later changed his story after being told witnesses said there had been “no fury or anger” in Zhao during the attack and his demeanour was “casual”.
Zhao told gardaí: “He lost his life over 70c. I feel sorry for him and his family.”
Sentencing was adjourned until December 9 and Zhao was remanded on continuing bail until that date.
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