Man claims he was provoked into attack because of porn sites

Tue, Jul 28, 2009, 01:00

A VISUALLY impaired man told gardaí he was provoked into attacking a man who had produced pornographic images on a computer and who had grabbed him in a sexually offensive manner, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Michael Byrne (37), Clonard Road, Crumlin, Dublin, had been charged with murdering Denis Brennan (60) at Bow Bridge complex, Kilmainham, Dublin, between July 5th and July 8th last year.

Two of Mr Brennan’s children strongly dispute the allegation against their father by his killer, saying there was no evidence of any such wrongdoing

Byrne, who is legally blind and who appeared in court with dark glasses and a cane, pleaded not guilty to murder last month but guilty of manslaughter, which the State accepted on provocation grounds.

Mr Justice Paul Carney remanded Byrne on continuing bail until sentencing on Friday.

Det Sgt Michael O’Brien gave evidence yesterday that Byrne was installing sound drives on one of Mr Brennan’s computers.

Byrne told gardaí that while he was working on Mr Brennan’s laptop, he had brought up pornographic images on his other computer. Byrne said the images caused him offence and he objected.

“I said I wasn’t into that stuff. Some of the people did not look 18,” he said. “He started pulling up sites with transsexuals and transvestites. I was almost getting sick.”

He said Mr Brennan later appeared without his shirt, gave him a Coke and asked him if he was in a hurry. He replied that he was. “He tried to grab my balls and I told him to leave it out. He said everyone likes a bit of fun.”

Mr Brennan then grabbed his stomach, the most sensitive part of his body, he said, having endured numerous surgeries on the area due to a painful life-long illness.

“I freaked. I just remember thinking ‘Get your hands off me’. I just remember going for him. My body’s been abused so many times; I just flipped.”

Det Sgt O’Brien said gardaí verified that there had been attempts to download sound cards and that certain pornographic sites had been accessed until about 2.15am.

The detective agreed with Isobel Kennedy SC, defending, that a psychiatrist had suggested a manslaughter plea by reason of diminished responsibility.

Ms Kennedy told Mr Justice Carney that her client left school at 12, he began working between surgeries and trained as a security guard when he was 21. He trained in computers, designed databases and trained as an information technology teacher.

Ms Kennedy said Byrne had a partner and had acted as a stepfather to her daughter.

Two of Mr Brennan’s children gave emotional victim impact statements from the witness box. Yvonne Brennan said the day of her father’s death was the saddest day of her family’s lives.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, she said, they had to hear about a sex game, adding that there had never been any evidence of such.

“There was no wrongdoing on my father’s behalf,” she said. “Dad was the kindest and most gentle man. Words can’t describe what the family’s going through. None of the family can sleep at night.”

Her brother, Justin Brennan, said the void left by his father’s death was immeasurable and that to lose him in such a manner was unbearable.