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Victim threatened witness with petrol bombing, court hears

The former girlfriend of a murder accused broke down in court today as she told how the deceased, whom she described as a "blade merchant", threatened to petrol bomb her and her baby.

The former girlfriend of a murder accused broke down in court today as she told how the deceased, whom she described as a "blade merchant", threatened to petrol bomb her and her baby.

Ms Lisa Moorehouse was giving evidence in the trial of her former boyfriend, Paul Hopkins, who is jointly accused with Jacqui Noble of murdering Ms Noble’s partner, Derek Benson.

Ms Moorhouse wept as she told the Central Criminal Court jury that Derek Benson threatened her and her baby on at least four occasions and that he once chased her with a butcher’s knife.

Questioned by Mr Tom O’Connell SC, prosecuting, she said Paul Hopkins initially denied involvement with the killing. He later broke down and said he did not mean to do it and wanted to go to the gardaí. He told her "it was either Derek or it was Paul", she said.

Cross-examined by Ms Isobel Kennedy SC, defending Paul Hopkins, the witness said she was afraid of Derek Benson: "He was just a horrible person."

She recalled one occasion when Benson stopped her and said: "See you, you stupid bastard, I’m going to petrol bomb you and that little bastard out of it." She had her baby daughter with her at the time and he was pointing at both of them.

Ms Moorehouse told the court that at the time two of the threats, Paul Hopkins was in America on a work-related FÁS course.

"Did you take these threats seriously," asked Ms Kennedy.

Yes, the witness replied, adding: "Everyone knew he was a blade merchant and he carried blades, he’d already chased me with a blade."

Ms Moorehouse, a former drug addict, recalled that on one occasion when she had obtained some drugs Benson took them from her.

She told the court she begged him to leave her with some and he told her to call to his mother's house the next day. When she turned up he came after her with a butcher’s knife.

"Mrs Benson was screaming 'leave that girl alone, leave that girl alone’."

The witness told the court she was no longer in a relationship with Paul Hopkins. She described the relationship prior to the killing as "brilliant" except for drugs, but that both had been getting treatment and he had a job.

Ms Moorehouse broke down as she told the court: "He treated me like a queent." After the killing however, "he was very messed up".

She said their young daughter now lives with her father, but spends a lot of time with her also.

When counsel asked why the child resided with Mr Hopkins, she replied: "He’s just a brilliant father."

In other evidence the accused’s mother, Margaret Hopkins, told the court that in 1998, Derek Benson called to her house looking for money that he claimed Paul Hopkins owed him.

He was on a motorbike and when he removed his helmet she ran inside and closed the door. A neighbour told him to leave.

Jacqui Noble (aged 38) of Knowth Court, Ballymun, Dublin and Paul Hopkins (aged 24) Sillogue Road, Ballymun have both pleaded not guilty to the murder of Derek Benson (aged 33) at Sandy Hill Avenue Ballymun on May 13, 2000.

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