A man who was allegedly beaten to death with a hatchet during a row over a chihuahua had a previous conviction for stamping on a man’s head, a murder trial was told on Thursday.
Wayne Cluskey (25), and Josh Turner (24), both of Mooretown, Ratoath, Co Meath have pleaded not guilty to the murder of 27-year-old Christopher Nevin at Tailteann Road, Navan on November 19th, 2015.
Garda Michael Fitzpatrick of Navan Garda Station told Mr Cluskey's defence barrister Shane Costelloe SC that, in 2007, Mr Nevin pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm having stamped on a man's head as he lay on the ground.
He said the assault left the victim with lifelong injuries and Mr Nevin was jailed for five and a half years, with 18 months suspended for his part. On another occasion, Mr Nevin was convicted of possession of an article with intent to cause injury.
Mr Nevin's wife, Lisa Nevin, also gave evidence on Thursday, telling prosecution counsel Michael O'Higgins SC that she married the deceased in 2011. She said they were "very happy", that they travelled abroad once a year and that her husband loved life. "He just wanted a simple life," she added.
She said she knew Josh Turner and Wayne Cluskey, who would often call to their home. They shared an interest in lamping for rabbits, and Josh and Christopher shared a love of dogs.
About six months before her husband died, Mr Turner had provided a male chihuahua to breed with three female chihuahuas belonging to her husband. She said only one of the dogs got pregnant and Christopher believed she would only have one pup.
On the morning of the day Christopher died, they had received a phone call from the council telling them they were to get a house. At the time, they were living in a caravan at a halting site in St Francis Park.
The last time she saw her husband alive was that afternoon when he left the caravan with his friend, Wayne Casserly, to walk the short distance to Mr Casserly's home on Tailteann Road.
Mr Casserly told Mr O’Higgins that he and Christopher arrived at the house on Tailteann Road at about 1.20pm. A short time later he saw Mr Turner and Mr Cluskey arrive in Mr Cluskey’s girlfriend’s car.
Mr Turner came to the livingroom window of the house and knocked and the deceased went to the door. Moments later, Mr Casserly heard a “commotion and shouting” so he went out.
“The two of them were shouting at each other. Just roaring and shouting,” he said. He told them to “calm the fuck down” and then Wayne Cluskey got out of the car and took something out of the back seat.
He said Mr Cluskey ran at Mr Nevin and struck him on the shoulder with what he then realised was a hatchet or an axe. He said all three of them scuffled until Mr Nevin ended up on the ground.
“Wayne was on top of him and Josh was standing over him with the axe,” he said. Mr Casserly said he tried to intervene, but Mr Turner struck him on the back of the head with the weapon. He said he stumbled around in a daze and then heard Wayne Cluskey say: “You have gone and done it now, you have killed him.”
When he regained his senses, he said he saw his friend lying on the ground, bleeding so he went inside to get his phone and call an ambulance.
He added: “Josh told me to keep my mouth shut, that I seen nothing.”
He said the two men also checked to see if Christopher was breathing and, before leaving, one of them told him to ring an ambulance. About half an hour later he said he received a phone call from Josh Turner who asked about Christopher.
Mr Casserly told him: “I think you are after killing him.”
Mr Casserly said Mr Turner told him again to keep his mouth shut.
Mr Casserly agreed with Mr Turner’s defence counsel Patrick Marrinan SC that he believed the two men were concerned for Mr Nevin before they left. Mr Marrinan will continue his cross examination on Friday in front of Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of nine men and three women.