Kilkenny man allegedly set friend on fire

A Kilkenny man who allegedly set fire to a friend he suspected had HIV, comforted and shared drink with his victim earlier in the evening, the Central Criminal Court heard today.

A Kilkenny man who allegedly set fire to a friend he suspected had HIV, comforted and shared drink with his victim earlier in the evening, the Central Criminal Court heard today.

Thomas O’Grady, 24, of Fatima Place, Kilkenny, denies two counts of attempting to murder Paul Barry,34, of Ossory Park, Kilkenny, on 10 October 1999.

The extent of the injuries sustained by Mr Barry that night required both his legs to be amputated.

Thomas Berry,32, also from Kilkenny, was drinking with the two friends in what is locally known as Danny Mac’s Field.

“They were sharing a crate of cans between them. It was a 24 pack,” he told the court.

When Mr Barry, who was “a little bit drunk” began to get upset, the accused comforted him and told him that “things were all in the past,” Mr Berry said.

Also giving evidence was Peter Phelan,23, of Hebron Park, Kilkenny. He too was drinking in the field, and remembered Barry’s reaction to the allegation that he suffered from HIV. “He was very upset about it and started to cry and got hysterical,” he said.

During the course of the evening, Phelan and Barry got into an altercation, and there was a “box thrown”.

This came to nothing, said Phelan, and he left the field later on, with the sound of raised male voices in the background. Georgette O’Carroll (22), of Kilkenny, who was one of the last to leave the field that night, described Barry as “highly intoxicated”.

“There was mention of HIV,” she told the court. “Paul cut his nose on the wall. I can’t remember how it happened. At that stage there was word around that Paul Barry had HIV so we were warning each other not to touch his blood,” she said.

Before going home O’Carroll shone a torch in Barry’s face while he lay sleeping, but she saw that he was breathing and left. Six years to the day, William Ryan, an ambulance technician attached to St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny, recalled finding Barry’s badly burnt body.

“He was in a very confused state. He was burnt. He was burnt from head to toes. He had little or nothing on,” he said.

The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Henry Abbott and the jury of eight men and four women.

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