Man who beat 54-year-old to death warned deceased to ‘get away from me’
Anthony Walsh (31) was arrested after his mother called gardaí
Anthony Walsh (31) has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Dermot Byrne (54) but guilty to manslaughter at North Street, Swords, Co Dublin on July 16th, 2017.
A man who admits beating a 54-year-old to death told gardaí he was attacked and warned the deceased to “get away from me before I f**king murder you”, his trial has heard.
He has also pleaded guilty to stealing a bank card, keys and a Zippo lighter from Mr Byrne on the same date and location.
Garda Jason McDonnell told prosecuting counsel Vincent Heneghan SC that he went to the home of Marie and Hugh Walsh on July 16th after being informed that their son had been identified as a suspect in Mr Byrne’s death.
Mrs Walsh had contacted gardaí after Anthony told her he had been in a fight and the other man was dead. Garda McDonnell said he listened in to phone conversations between the accused man and his mother.
During one conversation Mr Walsh told his mother he was going to England and wanted to see her before he left, to give her a hug. During a later call Mr Walsh sounded drunk and his mother told him to get a taxi home and she would pay for it, the court heard.
Gardaí hid their cars at the back of the property so Mr Walsh wouldn’t know they were there. He arrived in a taxi and was arrested. He was cautioned and placed in handcuffs and made a number of admissions in front of his mother while still in his parents’ garden.
Garda McDonnell recalled him saying: “I didn’t mean to kill him. He kept coming at me. It was just a couple of straighteners. I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean to kill him. I told him to get away from me or I would murder him.”
Garda McDonnell agreed with defence counsel Remy Farrell SC that it was an “emotionally fraught” scene between mother and son.
Sgt Killian Leydon told Mr Heneghan that Mrs Walsh hugged her son and he was crying as he told her: “I told him to get away from me before I f**king murder you.”
The accused then asked gardaí if Mr Byrne had any children and they told him he had two daughters. Detective Garda Owen Keane noted that the accused said: “I gave him a few digs and he died.”
Following his arrest, Mr Walsh made a cautioned written statement through his solicitor. Sergeant Leydon agreed with Mr Heneghan that in the statement he said he went out for drinks with friends and later, when he was looking for a taxi, there was a “confrontation which turned into a fight”.
He said the deceased “came at me swinging punches and kicks”. He said Mr Byrne then rugby tackled him, punched him in the face, pulled him by the arms and was getting the better of him. Mr Walsh said he told Mr Byrne to leave him alone and that the deceased tried to bite him. The accused said he then kicked Mr Byrne in the head and Mr Byrne fell unconscious before Mr Walsh ran away. “I really didn’t think he was properly injured,” he said, adding that he had no intention to kill him, he was sorry and wished he could turn back the clock.
In a later interview, he said he thought he was going to die when he was being assaulted by Mr Byrne and that he had to knock him out to stop him. Sgt Leydon agreed with defence counsel Remy Farrell that the accused was released following his arrest and was charged two days later.
During those two days, Sgt Leydon agreed, he was free to go anywhere but stayed in the area and was arrested by arrangement and without difficulty at St James’s Hospital in Dublin.
In earlier evidence, Paul Byrne told Mr Heneghan the deceased was his brother. He was, he said, similar in build to himself, being about five feet nine inches tall and about nine-and-a-half stone. The trial continues tomorrow in front of Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of six women and six men.