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Trial Underway Of Portarlington Man Accused Of Murder

20 year old Dean Kerrie of St Brigid's Square has pleaded not guilty.

A jury may have to consider the issue of self defence in the trial of a then-teenage boy accused of murdering a drunk man who entered his home in the early hours of the morning, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

20-year-old Dean Kerrie, with an address in Portarlington in Co Laois has pleaded not guilty to murdering 25-year-old Jack Power at Shanakiel, Dunmore East, Co Waterford on July 26, 2018.

Opening the prosecution’s case yesterday morning, Michael Delaney SC said the case arose out of the fatal stabbing of Mr Power in Dunmore East, which is a picturesque village on the Co Waterford coast.

On the night of these events on July 25, Mr.Power had been socialising and ended up in a pub known as "Butcher Power's", where he remained until 3am the following morning.

Outlining the facts of the case, Mr Delaney said that Mr Power went to his Volkswagen Polo car after he left the pub, which was parked on a circular road at the back of the pub. Mr Power got into his car and it will be clear from the evidence that he was quite intoxicated at the time, he said.

The prosecution barrister went on to tell the court that it seemed from circumstantial evidence that as Mr Power drove away he struck or collided with a pole on the road, which caused damage to the front bumper of his vehicle. "Parts of the bumper were deposited at the scene and also parts of the wing mirror. The deceased was of the view that the damage to the wing mirror was caused maliciously," he added.

In relation to the accused Mr Kerrie, Mr Delaney said he was 17 years of age at the time and grew up in Dunmore East, where he lived with his mother in a housing estate known as Shanakiel. It was in this house, counsel said, where the accused fatally stabbed Mr Power at 3.30am that morning.

Detailing the evidence that will be heard, Mr Delaney said that Mr Power had driven from the location where he had been parked to a cul de sac adjacent to Shanakiel estate. Mr Power got out of his car and met two of his friends at the entrance to Shanakiel.

He added: "It was clear to those two friends that Mr Power was agitated and exercised about the damage to the car wing mirror. He was of the view that Dean Kerrie was responsible for that when the car was parked up at the back of Butcher Power's pub. I want to state that whether it is correct or not that Mr Kerrie damaged the car is not a fact that we have to prove in the case. What is relevant is that Mr Power was of the view that Mr Kerrie damaged it".

Mr Delaney said the evidence will be that Mr Power picked up a rock from a flower bed, where he had met his two friends and made his way to Mr Kerrie's house.

One of Mr Power's friends, the lawyer said, followed him but was some distance behind him and heard glass breaking before Mr Kerrie's house "came into view". He then saw Mr Power make his way into the accused's house, where an altercation took place between Mr Power and Mr Kerrie.

The court heard that also present and perhaps involved in the scuffle was Mr Kerrie's mother, Ann Fitzgerald and the accused's friend.

Mr Power's friend was able to observe what happened in the entrance hall of the house when he was standing in the front garden.

Outlining the circumstances of the deceased’s death, Mr Delaney said the recollection of Mr Power's friend is that "Mr Power and Mr Kerrie were in a scuffle, he then saw Jack in a scuffle with two other people in the hall and the accused coming from behind Mr Power. Mr Power then turned around to face him and he saw Mr Kerrie stab Mr Power in the chest with a knife".

The deceased then "just walked" out of the house and collapsed on the ground outside.

Mr Power's friend and others raised the alarm and various people came to the scene to assist. CPR was carried out on Mr Power but by the time emergency services arrived he was lifeless. The deceased was pronounced dead a short time after his arrival at the hospital.

There will be evidence, Mr Delaney said, that a postmortem was carried out on Mr Power at Waterford Regional Hospital on July 26 by then acting State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis. The cause of death was a stab wound to a depth of 13 cm to the left side of Mr Power's chest.

The court will also hear evidence, the lawyer said, that Dr Curtis found evidence of blunt force trauma to Mr Power's head and bruising to his forehead and face. A toxicology report indicated a high level of alcohol in the deceased's system as well as traces of cocaine.

The disturbance continued "to a certain extent" immediately after Mr Power collapsed. Mr Power's friend ran to his family home in the Shanakiel estate and got a golf club and returned to the accused's home and began to break windows in the house

He also indicated to the jury that numerous calls were made to 999 and one of these calls was made by the accused's mother, Ms Fitzgerald. Strangely, Mr Delaney said, Ms Fitzgerald gave an account of the breakage in the house but said nothing about Mr Power being stabbed.

The 999 calls were recorded and in one of the recordings a male can be heard shouting: "You come into this house and I shall take your life". Mr Delaney said there will be evidence to establish that this was said after Mr Power had been stabbed and not beforehand.

The court heard further evidence will be that the accused dialled 999 looking for gardai and an ambulance shortly after the 999 call was made by his mother. "This was a relatively lengthy call, he was on the line for 15 minutes," he said.

Counsel said the court will hear that in the course of this telephone call, Mr Kerrie gave an account as to what had happened and said he stabbed Mr Power.

Mr Delaney said that when Mr Kerrie was asked where the knife was he told gardai that it was on the floor in the hall. "He was asked a number of times to leave the knife there and not to touch it," he said, adding that there is a transcript of this call. Furthermore, the jury will hear the call made by Ms Fitzgerald to gardai.

Gardai arrived at the scene and observed a black and white-handled kitchen knife on the floor in the hall. The accused was arrested on suspicion of causing harm and was taken to Waterford Garda Station and detained for the purpose of an investigation.

Mr Kerrie was examined by a doctor, who found he had got minor injuries. "That's my description, you may take a different view," said counsel.

Ms Fitzgerald was also in garda station at the time and a guard will give evidence that she had no recollection of observing any injuries to her, said Mr Delaney.

The black and white handled knife, which had been lying on the floor, was seized and swabbed for blood but "curiously no blood was found on the blade", he said.

Gardai found a similar knife partially concealed on the draining board in the kitchen of the house, which did appear to have blood and it was found to contain Mr Power's DNA.

The barrister said the prosecution will invite the jury to draw the conclusion that the knife found on the draining board and not the knife in the hall had been used to stab Mr Power. "The knife in the hall was deliberately planted there by the accused or someone else in the house before gardai arrived," he added.

Mr Delaney said that the prosecution will say that the natural and probable consequences of stabbing someone with a large kitchen knife into the chest is that "at the very least it will cause serious injury".

If the prosecution fails to prove that Mr Kerrie had the relevant intent at the time then the appropriate verdict is manslaughter, said the lawyer.

Referring to the defence of self-defence, counsel said that given the circumstances by which Mr Power gained entry to the home of Mr Kerrie then the jury may have to consider the issue of self-defence. "Self defence in a murder case may provide the full defence or the partial defence, it may reduce murder to manslaughter or can result in an outright acquittal," he concluded.

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