Gang battered man to death, court hears

 

The body of a man was found with his head split open after he was subjected to a "most vicious and sustained assault" after a Millennium party in Antrim, a court heard today.

Prosecution QC Mr David Hunter told Belfast Crown Court that Denver James Smith (32) had been beaten to death by a gang who had chased him into a grass area beside the Stiles housing estate in Antrim town at around 4 a.m. on New Year's Day.

"It is clear that he was the subject of a most vicious and sustained attack perpetrated by a number of persons and with several weapons," he told Mr Justice Higgins.

Denying his murder is Mr Stephen Guiney (20) from Devon Close in Antrim. He also denies the charge of affray.

Earlier Mr Hunter said that a group of people had went into the Stiles estate and were "hurling sectarian abuse" and breaking windows at a house in Andraid Close.

Four people have already admitted causing criminal damage to the Housing Executive property.

The lawyer said that after the attack, the crowd were retreating when "some kind of pursuit was mounted" by the people inside the house.

Mr Hunter added that while the events which transpired were "unclear", a taxi driver who was driving past saw a person lying on the ground "being attacked by a group of men".

Police arrived on the scene just before 5 a.m. on New Years Day and found the body of Mr Smith with "very severe head injuries with a deep and bloody wound" on the top of his head, through which his brain was protruding.

Mr Hunter said that while the head injury had caused Mr Smith's death, he had other multiple injuries including a fractured cheek bone, cuts and bruises which could have been caused by a chair leg or baseball bat and an "elliptical stab wound" which could have been caused by Mr Smith being shot by a cross bow.

At an earlier hearing 24-year-old Stephen Fullen of no fixed abode pleaded guilty to his manslaughter while another man, Irish Guard Scott Clarke Bradshaw (21) from Devon Square, Antrim admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Smith.

Bradshaw has also admitted assisting offenders in that he removed the weapons and other items from the scene.

Mr Hunter told the court today that a pair of track suit bottoms, worn by Mr Guiney on the night of the killing had been subjected to DNA testing which found that they were stained with blood and tissue from Mr Smith.

The lawyer said that when retrieved by a police officer, the tissue on the bottoms still had "a quantity of hair attached".

He added that the trousers worn by Mr Smith when he was attacked also had spots of blood that DNA tests matched that of Mr Guiney.

During police interview, Mr Guiney denied any involvement in the attack and further denied even being in the area at the time.

However, Mr Hunter said that it was the Crown case that the evidence will prove that Mr Guiney was either part of the assault or "assisted those who committed the assault and by that guilty of his murder".

Earlier today Joseph Patrick McDonnell (39)from Rathglynn in Antrim admitted to assisting offenders in that he removed blood stained clothing from the scene of the attack.

The four men who have admitted causing criminal damage to the house are Raymond Taylor (28) from Tobergill Gardens, Alexander David Johnston (29) from Aghaboy Gardens, Norman Stephen Watkins (20) with an address in Killbride Gardens and Darren John Watkins (29) from Rathglynn, all in Antrim.

Jerome Justin Archibald (25) from Ardnaglass Gardens in Antrim pleaded guilty to affray while Stephen Allen (30) who also lives in Ardnaglass Gardens admitted assisting offenders in that he provided replacement clothing.