Murder accused was defending friend, says witness

A witness in the trial of a Dublin man accused of killing a father of two in North Dublin three years ago has said that the accused got involved in the fighting on the night to defend his friend and his son.

A witness in the trial of a Dublin man accused of killing a father of two in North Dublin three years ago has said that the accused got involved in the fighting on the night to defend his friend and his son.

Mr Gary Courtney told Mr Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, that Peter Dolan had intervened when two men, one of whom was armed with a baseball bat, started beating up him and his father.

Mr Dolan (aged 42) of Tulip Court, Darndale denies the murdering Mr Brown during a disturbance at Clonshaugh Drive in Coolock on April 2, 2005. He also denies assaulting Mr Emmett Taaffe on the same occasion.

Mr Courtney said he had been in a field drinking with some friends for most of the evening. He estimated he had six cans and was "fairly drunk". Some time after midnight they went back to the house where one of the group, Owen Baker, was living.

When they arrived at the house on Clonshaugh Drive, Coolock, Mr Baker got into an argument with one of a group of teenagers gathered nearby, who had asked him for a cigarette.

Mr Courtney said one of the group threw a crutch at Mr Baker before chasing them as far as Mr Baker's house.

Mr Courtney's father Noel told Mr Burns that he was walking back from the pub with his friend, Mr Dolan and Mr Dolan's wife. He saw a group of teenagers fighting and spotted his son among them.

"I walked over to him to make sure he wasn't involved. I said: "Come on, you're walking down with us."

Gary Courtney said he wanted to wait for his cousin. Just as they were preparing to leave a car "screeched" up and two men got out.

"A fella came over with a bat and was hitting everybody," he said.

He said the man had the bat hidden up his sleeve.

"He was hitting everyone that was in his way and he hit me as well."

Noel Courtney said he saw the man hit his son twice.

"I just leaned over and said he's nothing to do with it. I didn't see the big fella. He came from nowhere. He caught me on the chin and sent me flying."

Mr Courtney said he tried to stand up but only got as far as his knees before the two men started hitting him again. He said he was curled up into a ball shielding his head.

He told Mr Burns he heard Mr Dolan shout: "Get the f**k away from them" as his son was helping him to his feet and leading him into the house. He saw the two men turn and start running towards Mr Dolan.

Both Gary and Noel Courtney said they could not remember seeing anyone carrying a knife.

The jury also heard from Mr Jason Clarke who told Mr Sean Guerin, also prosecuting, that he had not seen anyone getting stabbed on the night, despite having told gardaí the opposite in a statement at the time.

Mr Clarke, who was 15 at the time of the incident, said he had only made the statement to get the gardaí to get out of his house. He said he had been present while the fighting was going on, but had been running away at the time of the stabbing.

"What person of 15 is going to stand there while killings is going on?"

He said the details he had given about the stabbing he had heard from local gossip. He told Mr Guerin when asked why the jury should believe him now, however.

"I'm under oath now," he said. "I wasn't under oath when I made the statement."

The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Paul Carney and the jury of seven women and five men.

More in this section

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence