One of four former public schoolboys tried in connection the death of an 18-year-old student was cleared today of manslaughter.
Desmond Ryan, 23, from Dalkey, Co Dublin, was acquitted of the charge after almost 19 hours of deliberation at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
The eight-man, four-woman jury told the judge they were deadlocked over Sean Mackey’s manslaughter charge.
The pair were both found guilty yesterday of violent disorder relating to the death of Brian Murphy outside a Dublin nightclub.
Co-accused Dermot Laide, 22, from Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, was found guilty of manslaughter and a separate charge of violent disorder on Wednesday.
A fourth accused Andrew Frame, 22, from Donnybrook, Co Dublin, walked free from court earlier this week when he was acquitted of violent disorder.
Judge Michael White discharged the jury after they delivered their verdicts on the 34th day of the trial.
He paid a “heartfelt tribute” to their dedication over the last seven weeks and acknowledged it had been an unenviable task.
As they left the court, at least three members of the jury were visibly crying.
Mr Murphy was kicked and beaten to death after a student night at Club Anabel in the Burlington Hotel, Dublin, on August 31, 2000.
The packed courtroom sat silent and in shock as the marathon trial finally ended.
All three convicted men were released on bail until Monday March 8 when they will be sentenced and Mackey’s outstanding manslaughter charge will be dealt with.
As the final verdicts were read out, Ryan breathed a sigh of relief while members of both Laide and Mackey's families held their heads in their hands.
The Murphy family left the court together. Outside, father Dennis, standing arm in arm with his wife Mary, said: “We have noted the verdicts handed down by the court over the past three days but until such time as sentencing is completed we have no further comment to make.”
All three accused, who attended the exclusive Blackrock College, Dublin, left the court with their families without making comment.
The trial has dominated headlines as more than 100 witnesses were called to give evidence, over 40 of whom had witnessed the fight.
Friends of both Mr Murphy and the accused have at times been refused access to the courtroom, which has been packed to capacity with relatives of all five.
As the jury considered its verdict over three days the atmosphere was tense, the small room hot and crowded. Many dared not even leave their seats.
The prosecution did not allege the attack was planned but said all of the accused had chosen to take part.
Edward Comyn, prosecuting, described it as a “short but sustained” attack in which My Murphy was left isolated and outnumbered.
In his statement to gardaí Ryan admitted punching Mr Murphy twice before walking away from the group.
Just one witness linked Ryan to the scene. Alan Dalton said he saw him throw a punch on the outskirts of the main fight.
The jury was told of several witnesses who had seen Laide in the group that was attacking Mr Murphy.
Blackrock College head Alan McGinty said Laide had admitted to him that he had entered the fracas to defend Frame, and had kicked Mr Murphy in the shins and punched him once.
In the witness box, fellow student David Cox said he had seen two punches thrown by Laide, who had cut knuckles after the incident.
During its deliberations, the jury asked to hear again the evidence of Mr Dalton, a friend of the accused, who said Laide had admitted to him he had punched the victim.
Frame’s charge of violent disorder was based on the evidence of Michael Hussey, a friend of Mr Murphy.
He said he attacked Frame because he saw him in a group moving towards Mr Murphy.
Frame was not alleged to have kicked or punched the victim.
A post mortem examination showed Mr Murphy died from severe swelling of the brain.
Pathologist John Harbison said his head injuries were the result of “considerable violence”.
He was pronounced dead at St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, at 4.57am, just three hours after the nightclub closed.
Judge Michael White spent two and a half days summing up the evidence of the six-week trial before sending the jury to consider its verdict on Tuesday.