Manslaughter trial opens in Dundalk today

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The trial of a 41 year-old man accused of the manslaughter of a 25 year-old Clogherhead fisherman opened before a jury of nine men and three women with Judge Donagh McDonagh presiding at Dundalk Circuit Court yesterday (Wednesday).

The trial of a 41 year-old man accused of the manslaughter of a 25 year-old Clogherhead fisherman opened before a jury of nine men and three women with Judge Donagh McDonagh presiding at Dundalk Circuit Court yesterday (Wednesday).

Kevin McKernan (41) of Black Island View, Castleblayney pleaded not guilty to the unlawful killing on March 9th 2010 of Errol Dunne of Grangebellew and formerly O’Donnell Park, Clogherhead.

Prosecuting counsel Mr Kilfeather told the jury that was reduced to 11 members that it was the state’s case that Kevin McKernan assaulted Errol Dunne and that he died as a result of the injuries he sustained.

The evidence would establish that the assault took place on March 7th 2010 in the early hours of the morning. Mr Dunne as a result of the injuries he sustained was taken to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital where he died two days later.

The prosecution evidence would show that Mr. Dunne went to the Harbour Bar, Clogherhead on Saturday, March 6th some time in the evening. During the early hours of the following morning he was on the road outside the bar.

There was a confrontation between him and the accused.

The accused punched him to the area of the face/head and as a result he fell down and struck the back of his head.

Darren Reilly of John Kirk estate in the village gave evidence that the deceased was his best friend.

They were together on Saturday March 6 and were to Drogheda and that night went to the Harbour Bar about 10.30.

Later in the night he described that a “big fellah” hit Errol a punch on the face out on the road.

Witness noted that Errol was in bad form that something was after happening. He was walking towards the harbour when he met a group of four, comprising three men and a woman, who were in pairs.

Errol made a remark “what the fuck” to the group, and the “Big Fellah” who was walking with a smaller man, struck out at Errol who fell onto the ground.

Witness said he and a friend Kevin McArdle ran up and a fight broke out between them and the other two men.

He wasn’t sure whether the other man and woman in the group got involved. Others came down from the pub to break up the fight.

He continued that Errol was lying on the middle of the road with the fight in progress and lasted four or five minutes.

He said that he collected Errol about 5 or 6 in the evening and went to Drogheda to get food.

They returned to the village and got Errol’s brother’s BMW. Errol drove it to the Harbour Bar. Errol had two or three pints of Coors Light to drink.

Aaron Dunne, an older brother of the deceased, said that Errol called to his (witness) house at 6.30pm and was in good form, joking with his daughter.

He left about a half an hour later. He texted about 10.30 to borrow witness’s BMW and arrived for it ten minutes later. He didn’t look like he had drink. He said his brother wasn’t a big drinker.

He next received a phone call about 2am from his sister that Errol was taken to hospital.

Two Garda technical witnesses gave evidence of the scene which was 70m from the Harbour Bar.

Broken glass including a broken piece of a Guinness pint glass, a beige jacket, four buttons, an open packet of Benson and Hedges cigarettes, a trail of drops of blood were among items noted.