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Manslaughter trial reaches closing stages

By Brion Hoban

A manslaughter trial has heard the alleged victim died of “a freak event” leading on from “a very ordinary injury”.

Ronan Byrne (31) is alleged to have fractured James Marren’s leg with a bat during an altercation.

A jury has heard that days after the man’s leg was put in a cast at a hospital, a blood clot developed in his leg which travelled to his heart and this clot proved fatal.

Byrne, of Lohunda Downs, Clonsilla, Blanchardstown, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the unlawful killing of Mr Marren (57) 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 the same address five days earlier on October 26, 2013.

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

In his closing speech to the jury, Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, said the “principles of causation apply to this case”.

He said the mere fact that an event occurs which is part of a series of events which results in death, this does not mean the event concerned caused the death.

Mr Dwyer suggested the deceased man died of “a freak event” leading on from “a very ordinary injury”.

He said that death from deep vein thrombosis is “thankfully extremely rare”.

Counsel asked the jury to bear in mind this was a fast moving event happening in a very closely confined area.

He said his client acted “reasonably and proportionally” in that he did not use “excessive violence”.

He said each of his client’s relatives all painted “a very sad picture” of a young man who had been “brutalised” throughout his youth and into his twenties by Mr Marren.

He said his client had never retaliated and all of the evidence says this was the first time his client hit him back.

Mr Dwyer said all of the evidence suggests Mr Marren started this sequence of events.

He said it was clear from the garda interview that his client felt if Mr Marren did get up again, he would hurt his client badly.

Counsel said the only purpose of his client striking Mr Marren was to stop him getting up so that he could get out of the house.

He said what was operating on his client’s mind was not just his own safety, but primarily the safety of his daughter.

Mr Dwyer said the injuries sustained by Mr Marren were “actually quite minor” in that he was released after staying overnight in hospital.

He submitted that the deep vein thrombosis “is so remote” from the original incident that you could not say the striking amounts to a cause of death.

He said if you go back far enough, you could say the cause of Mr Marren’s death was his own behaviour, because he started the sequence of events by launching an attack on his client.

Mr Dwyer said Mr Marren started this and “upped the ante”, grabbing his client by the throat.

He said if you apply your hands to someone’s throat, “you are threatening death”, that it is “a lethal type of action”.

Counsel asked the jury to take a view that our society recognises a person like his client in the situation he was in “only acted as any human would”.

He invited the jury to return verdicts of not guilty.

The trial continues before Judge Patricia Ryan and a jury.

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