16 May 2022

Jury retires in Naas baseball bat murder trial

Central Criminal Court

The jury has begun its deliberations in the trial of a man, charged with murdering a 20-year-old with one blow of a baseball bat in Naas, Co Kildare, in 2014.

Justice Michael White spent two days last week charging the jury following a trial of more than four weeks at the Central Criminal Court. 

He told the jurors that the most significant issue for them was provocation. 

Zoltan Almasi (49), a Serbian man with an address at Harbour View, Naas, Co. Kildare, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Athy man Joseph Dunne, but guilty to his manslaughter at Harbour View on May 16, 2014.

Mr Dunne died after receiving a blow to the back of his head, shattering his skull and driving the bone in towards the brain.

The trial heard that Mr Dunne had banged on or jostled Mr Almasi’s van, which was parked outside his home. The truck driver then chased Mr Dunne away with a baseball bat. He says that he didn’t realise that he had struck him with the bat until he later saw an ambulance and garda car in the area.

Mr Almasi’s barrister, Barra McGrory QC, suggested in his closing speech that the force with which he had wielded the bat could be evidence that he had lost control, one of the elements of the partial defence of provocation. 

However, Caroline Biggs SC, prosecuting, said that the deceased was running for his life, retreating and no threat to his killer, who she argued struck him in anger.

Justice White sent the jury out to begin considering its verdict this morning, Monday, June 28.

“You have to consider a unanimous verdict until I direct you otherwise,” he said.

He also asked the jury to phrase any questions so those outside the jury do not know what’s going on inside the jury room.

He explained that the jury could not deliberate in the actual jury room because of the pandemic. Another courtroom was sealed off for the process instead.

The registrar handed the foreperson a number of exhibits, before the jury left for the other courtroom. These included the baseball bat used in the killing.

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