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Man on trial for manslaughter of his mother’s partner

By Declan Brennan

A man has gone on trial for the manslaughter of his mother’s partner who died five days after an alleged assault with a baseball bat.

Ronan Byrne (31) of Lohunda Downs, Clonsilla, Blanchardstown, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to the unlawful killing of James Marren at that address on October 31, 2013.

He also denies production of a baseball bat during a dispute and assault of James Marren causing him harm at Lohunda Downs five days earlier.

Opening the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Philipp Rahn BL, prosecuting, told the jury that Mr Marren was hospitalised with a fractured leg after an altercation in the family home.

His leg was put in a cast and he was laid up at home for the next three days.

During this time a blood clot developed in his leg and travelled to his heart and this clot proved fatal. It is the States’s case that Mr Byrne’s actions on October 26th were responsible for Mr Marren’s death five days later.

The court heard the defendant’s mother Mairead Byrne and Mr Marren had been in a relationship for at least 13 years.

The defendant’s brother Ciaran Byrne testified that he was aged 16 on the evening of the incident when his mother and Mr Marren came home from a day of socialising and were “a bit drunk”.

He told Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, that over the years he frequently saw Mr Marren turn into “a different man” when he was drinking whiskey.

He said the deceased would verbally abuse the defendant and often struck him or choked him.

He said the defendant was afraid of Mr Marren and would never hit back or speak up for himself. He said Mr Marren was a strong man and was bigger than him or his brothers and that over the years he had often called gardaí to the home.

He said on the night in question, Mr Marren was calling the defendant “a scumbag” and telling him he wasn’t a good father to his young daughter.

He said that the defendant went into his own bedroom to check on his daughter and the deceased followed him and was saying something to him.

He said there was a scuffle and he saw the two men then holding each other in a headlock and he tried to separate them.

Mr Marren ended up on the ground and the witness said he was holding him down and telling him to relax.

He said he didn’t want Mr Marren to get back up and attack the defendant again. He told the jury that his brother had walked off and returned and was holding a wooden bat which he struck the deceased with around two or three times.

The witness said he was screaming and crying and he rang gardaí. He said the whole incident lasted about 30 seconds and afterwards the defendant left the house with his daughter.

Mr Marren was brought to hospital in an ambulance and came home the next day with his leg in a cast.

He spent the next three days resting and sleeping on a mattress on the ground floor of the house as the cast made it difficult for him to walk and to get upstairs.

Mr Byrne said that on the fourth morning he saw Mr Marren getting pale in the face as they were having a chat.

The then teenager began to telephone an ambulance and was in the middle of doing so when he Mr Marren’s eyes go to the back of his head.

“I think he had a seizure. He died shortly after that”.

The witness said that Mr Marren was a different person when he was drinking and that when he was sober “he was good to me”.

The trial continues before Judge Patricia Ryan and a jury

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