Mitchelstown murder accused was seen 'punching the lights' out of victim, trial hears

Mitchelstown murder accused was seen 'punching the lights' out of victim, trial hears
Michael Dineen with an address at 3 Ard Mhuileann, Ballinwillan, Mitchelstown

THE man on trial for murder of a drinking companion in a Mitchelstown pub was seen by an eye witness “kneeling over him punching the daylights out of him”.

The post-mortem examination showed his nose had been completely flattened and seven front teeth were knocked out – two of them ended up in his airways.

28-year-old Michael Dineen of Ard Mhuileann, Mitchelstown, denies the charge of murdering 36-year-old Patrick O’Donnell at Willie Andies bar on New Square, Mitchelstown, on June 1, 2018. 

He admits being guilty of manslaughter, not guilty of murder.

Theresa Walsh was working in the pub on the day in question – in order to help her son who had decided to take a lease on the premises. 

She testified that Michael Dineen came into the pub shortly after noon that day, a hot day, and had two pints of Bulmer’s cider before going away and returning. 

He chatted to Ms Walsh about his wife and children. He brought them in later for a drink but his wife and children left after three-quarters of an hour.

She said the deceased came in later in the evening. 

She thought it was about 7pm or 8pm but prosecution senior counsel Tim O’Leary suggested that from CCTV it was actually earlier.

An altercation broke out after 10pm but twice, just before that, she went to where the parties were sitting – once to tell them to keep their voices down and again because of noise of a stool being shifted on the tiled floor.

When she returned a third time Patrick O’Donnell was lying on the floor. 

“Michael was boxing him and boxing him and boxing him in the face. He (Mr O’Donnell) was not capable of defending himself. He kept punching him. I tried to tell him to stop and he would not stop. I screamed at him to stop but he would not stop for me.

“It felt like hours, it was probably only minutes because I have never seen anything like that before in my life. I was shouting and shouting at him but he could not stop himself. I was screaming.

“Mr Dineen was screaming. 

"He asked me to go in and get him water. I gave him a pint of water. He was standing over Mr O’Donnell and he threw it over Paddy. There was no movement from Paddy.” 

Mr O’Leary SC asked, “How was Mr Dineen?” 

Ms Walsh replied, “Excuse the expression – he was like a lunatic. That is the only way I can describe him.

“He went running out. There was a funfare in the square. He ran through all that. He took his shirt off and threw it at the door. He got on to his knees and shouted at me, “I am the king”.

Ms Walsh’s partner, John Doyle, said he spoke to the three or four men including the defendant and the deceased about getting a bit noisy prior to the violent incident. 

He said that at a later stage, others were out smoking and the defendant and the deceased were together in one part of the bar.

“I heard words. Then I heard a thump and a bang. I ran out straight away. 

"Well I walked over. That was when it all kicked off. I saw the deceased (faced up on the floor). I saw the accused kneeling over him punching the daylights out of him in the face. I said, ‘stop it now’. (The accused said) ‘Get the f*** away if you don’t want the same to happen to you.’ 

"All hell broke loose. People were running and screaming everywhere. I saw a number of blows, a lot of blows – just two fists. It was just unreal. 

"To the face and head. The man was just lying there in an awful state. There was blood everywhere. He was lying in a pool of blood.” 

Mr Doyle said the defendant left the pub and went outside but came back in and kicked the deceased two or three times in the groin area.

Cross-examining, Brendan Grehan SC for the defence suggested that what gave rise to it was that, “It seems Michael had drank Paddy’s Bulmers” and that Michael Dineen then bought a round of four drinks but the deceased did not want to take the pint from him.

Evidence was given that the 36-year-old father of four died from inhaling his own blood and two teeth after he suffered serious injuries to his face and head when he was violently assaulted.

Patrick Ginty O’Donnell died from inhaling his own blood and teeth due to blunt force trauma to the head which he suffered in the assault, former State Pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy said.

Prof. Cassidy said that she found that Mr O’Donnell had suffered extensive bruising and lacerations to his face and that his face, his shirt, his vest and the front legs of his trousers were all covered in blood.

He had lost seven teeth in the assault and she found one of these lodged in his windpipe and a second in a tract of his windpipe and she also found that his nose had been fractured and flattened.

Both the injury to his nose and the loss of his teeth had led to extensive bleeding back into his mouth when he was knocked to the ground and fell unconscious when his head hit the hard tiled floor of the pub.

This led to blood blocking his airways, resulting in hypoxia or lack of oxygen getting to his brain and because he was unconscious his gag reflex had been inhibited, she said.

Prof. Cassidy said she also found that Mr O’Donnell had a blood alcohol concentration level of 259mgs per 100mls which meant that he was highly intoxicated at the time of the assault.

This high level of intoxication combined with the fact that he had taken a number of tranquilizers, within the therapeutic range, was a contributory factor but not the cause of his death, she said.

Asked prosecution counsel, Tim O’Leary SC if the alcohol and tranquilizers had caused Mr O’Donnell’s death, Prof Cassidy said they were a secondary and contributory factor but he would not have died if he had not been assaulted.

Prof Cassidy also confirmed that she found no evidence of any defensive wounds.

Mr Justice Alexander Owens asked the jury of six men and six women to return to the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork tomorrow.

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