Robert McCartney turned to his friend during the vicious assault which ended in his fatal stabbing and gasped: “Nobody deserves this”, a court heard today.
The 33-year-old father of two died after suffering a stab wound outside a Belfast bar in January 2005.
Terence Malachy Davison, 51, denies murdering the forklift truck driver after he allegedly refused to apologise for insulting his wife inside Magennis’s bar in the city centre.
On the opening day of his trial at Belfast Crown Court, prosecution barrister Gordon Kerr said evidence will show that, after initially taking part in an attack on Mr McCartney along with a number of other men, Davison pursued the injured and bleeding man down another street before stabbing him in the abdomen.
Mr Kerr told the court an eyewitness, known as Witness C, said that, after delivering the fatal wound, Davison kicked Mr McCartney’s head as hard as he could.
“The prosecution say that the evidence taken as a whole would entitle the court to draw the proper inference that Davison was seen by Witness C violently attacking and killing Mr McCartney,” Mr Kerr said.
“The court will be invited to conclude that the swiping motions she has described were the use of a knife by the defendant who stabbed Mr McCartney and killed him.”
The QC said that even if the trial judge, Mr Justice Gillen, was not convinced by Witness C’s account, he could still convict Davison of murder given other eyewitness accounts of his involvement in the earlier attacks on Mr McCartney and his friend, Brendan Devine, outside Magennis’s.
“However, the prosecution also say that even if the court was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Witness C observed and is describing the stab wound which caused the death of Mr McCartney, the evidence would establish that the accused will be guilty of murder as part of a joint enterprise,” Mr Kerr said.
The attack outside the bar developed after a row inside spiralled out of control.
Mr Devine suffered a serious neck injury in a fist fight caused after Mr McCartney allegedly made a rude gesture to Davison’s wife.
Along with two other men – James McCormick, 39, and Joseph Gerard Emmanuel Fitzpatrick, 47 – Davison is also facing charges of affray.
Fitzpatrick is also charged with an assault on another of Mr Cartney’s friends, Edward Gowdy.
All three defendants deny the charges.
The murder of the Belfast man created headlines around the world, with the Provisional IRA accused of involvement at what was a pivotal time in the peace process in Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein has always denied that IRA members took part.
Mr McCartney’s sisters, who in the wake of their brother’s killing took a high-profile campaign for justice as far as the White House in Washington, were in court for the opening day of the trial.
Bridgeen Hagans, Mr McCartney’s fiancee, was also sitting in the public gallery as Mr Kerr outlined the prosecution case against Davison, McCormick and Fitzpatrick.
All three sat impassively in the dock during the proceedings.