Man jailed in pickaxe-death case

A man who beat another man to death with a pickaxe handle has been sentenced to 12 years in jail at the Central Criminal Court.

A man who beat another man to death with a pickaxe handle has been sentenced to 12 years in jail at the Central Criminal Court.

Pierce Byrne (aged 32) with an address at Hazelwood Crescent, Hartstown, Dublin 15 had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 29-year-old John Murphy after a row developed in a Blanchardstown pub on April 15, 2002.

Detective Garda Mark Kelly told Mr Mark Coffey SC, prosecuting, that the row broke out in the Buddha Bar in Blanchardstown after an allegation of child molestation was made by one of the Murphy group.

The row moved outside the bar and developed into a fight involving Mr Murphy, his brother Mark, their friends, the accused and Terence Keogh. Keogh is currently serving a ten year sentence for his part in the attack after pleading guilty in 2005.

Det Garda Kelly told Mr Coffey handheld CCTV footage showed Byrne with his shirt off shadow boxing at the Murphy group.

Keogh went a fetched a pickaxe handle from the boot of his car and he and Byrne chased the Murphy brothers until they cornered them outside a house on Sheepmore Grove.

The court heard that the subsequent attack lasted four to five minutes and the blows where mainly aimed at the head and Byrne and Keogh passed the pickaxe handle between them.

In a victim impact statement Mr Derek Murphy, brother of the deceased, told the court that his brother's injuries were so bad his head had become "one big open wound".

He said his brother Mark had regained consciousness during the attack and had heard one attacker say to the other to "let him have another go". But he said his brother John died protecting his brother.

"His lifeless body was found draped across Mark, protecting him from the worst of the beatings."

Mr Murphy said he remembered looking at his watch in the inquest when he heard how long the attack had lasted. He told the court "5 minutes is a long time."

He described the devastating effect the attack had had on his family. They had been unable to have an open coffin at the funeral because of the extent of his brother's injuries so many family and friends were denied the opportunity to say goodbye.

He told Mr Justice Paul Carney, the family had felt their brother had been taken away from them in more ways than one. "We inquired about donating his organs but we were told they were evidence. We couldn't hold the funeral because he was evidence."

Mr Murphy said his family was suffering a real life sentence. "For us there is no justice; no sentence long enough."

"We will always remember as a vibrant, laughing, healthy joker." He said their brother would never see his daughter grow up. "We miss him missing her birthdays for the last five years. We miss him missing her first day of school. We missed him missing dad's 60th birthday. We miss him missing life."

Det Gda Kelly told Mr Coffey the accused had moved to London after the attack. He handed himself in to police in Paddington Green station and was passed over to gardai to be brought back to Ireland in 2003.

However, after his arrest he returned to England and was extradited back to prison where he has been since May 2005.

He told the court the accused had 14 previous offences including several for theft and common assault as well as several for drugs offences.

Mr Justice Carney sentenced him to 12 years, backdated to his arrest on May 13, 2005.

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