'It was him or me', murder accused told gardaí

A Bray man accused of fatally stabbing a man six years ago told gardaí he didn't "intend to stab" the deceased, saying "It was him or me", the Central Criminal Court has heard.

A Bray man accused of fatally stabbing a man six years ago told gardaí he didn't "intend to stab" the deceased, saying "It was him or me", the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Richard O’Carroll (aged 33) with addresses at Greenpark Road, Bray, Co Wicklow and Cois Sleibhe, Southern Cross Road, Bray has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Keith Fortune (aged 27) of Hazelwood Upper, Dargle Road, Bray.

Mr Fortune allegedly died as a result of an incident at the "William Dargan Inn", Goldsmith Terrace, on Quinsboro Road in Bray in the early hours of May 2, 1999. He was in the company of family celebrating the christening of a child earlier that day.

Detective Sargent Patrick Campbell told the jury he arrested the accused man in Bray at 9.20am on May 2, 1999.

"Keith said something, a smart remark," O’Carroll allegedly told gardaí. "I exchanged some words with him. Then I saw the knife come out of his sleeve. I quickly head-butted him. A scuffle followed and we wrestled around with the knife and Keith got stabbed."

O’Carroll also allegedly told gardaí: "I took the knife from Keith Fortune and we were still struggling. I can’t remember what happened to the knife. Someone could have taken it off me."

Detective Inspector Gerald O'Carroll told the jury that the accused man told gardaí that he stabbed the deceased in self defence allegedly saying: "I didn’t want to be the one ending up in the morgue."

The accused man said to gardaí that he believed alcohol "played a part in it".

"Keith was drunk and I was drunk".

In his statement to gardaí Mr O’Carroll apologised for stabbing his friend and former work colleague saying: "I am very sorry."

"I knew him from my teens and we used to work together. I wish to apologise to Keith Fortune’s family and to my own family," the accused man told gardaí.

One of the State’s leading witnesses, Ms Jacqueline Smith from Bray was yesterday deemed a hostile witness by trial judge Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne.

Ms Smith told the jury she "couldn’t remember" making her three statements to gardaí and also she couldn’t remember much of May 1 in the William Dargan Inn.

Prosecuting counsel, Mr Barry Hickson SC read to the jury Ms Smith’s three statements in which she told gardaí she was in the company of Keith Fortune on the night of the fatal stabbing. Mr Fortune, she told gardaí, left the pub to go home after last orders.

Mr Hickson SC suggested to Ms Smith that her "lapse of memory was a strategy of convenience".

Ms Smith told the court at the time of the stabbing she was a heroin addict and "would have said mass to get her next fix".

The trial continues before Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne at the Central Criminal Court.

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