A man has gone on trial charged with the unlawful killing of a man after he allegedly broke into the house the victim was living in, stole a rucksack and set fire to the property.
Dean Boland (34) pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the unlawful killing of Ohari Viera, damaging property by arson and burglary and theft at Oaklands Terrace, Terenure, Dublin on August 21st, 2018.
Seamus Clarke SC, prosecuting, told the jury in an opening address that this was a case of “involuntary manslaughter” in that the death of Mr Viera “occurred because of the arson”.
He said it was the State’s case that Boland broke into the property and stole a rucksack from an apartment downstairs. The occupant of that apartment was not in the house at the time but the deceased and two other men were living in an upstairs apartment.
The jury were told it would hear evidence that the two of the men heard knocking and shouting downstairs at around 2.30am that morning. They then smelled smoke and called the emergency services before all three men left the house.
Smoke and fumes
However, Mr Viera went back into the building where Mr Clarke said he was overwhelmed with smokes and fumes. He later died in hospital.
Counsel said Mr Viera’s flatmates saw an unknown man hanging around with a rucksack on his back and drinking from a can of beer. This man, later identified as Mr Boland, claimed that he knew the man who had been living in the downstairs apartment.
Mr Clarke told the jury that investigations that followed identified that the “seat of the fire” was at the base of a bed downstairs. He said there was no gas in the property and no electricity.
Lando Junkueira told the jury that he and Mr Viera shared a bedroom in the upper flat of the property along with another man. He and Mr Viera slept in single beds in the front room of the building.
He said another man, George Cullen, lived in a separate flat downstairs. Mr Junkueira told Mr Clarke that he arrived home at around 11pm that night and after “a quick chat with the two lads” he went to sleep.
He woke around 3am because he heard a man shouting downstairs. The man was just calling out “George” and there was banging on walls and doors.
His flatmate came into his room a short time later and told him and Mr Viera that there was a fire downstairs. They all left and as he was passing by the other flat downstairs he could see the door was open and there was smoke inside. The flat had been closed when he came in earlier that night.
Mr Junkueira had called the emergency services and he said the gardaí arrived first and the fire brigade later.
He stayed in the front garden with his flatmates, when a man, who Mr Junkueira identified in court as “Dean” and pointed out the accused, approached them.
He said he couldn’t recall what Mr Boland said to them but he described him as appearing “nervous and intoxicated”. He was holding a can of beer.
Mr Junkueira said Mr Viera had “a brief argument” with Mr Boland – asking the man what he was doing there. He agreed that Mr Viera went back into the house, but he said he didn’t see him go back in because he was on the phone at the time.
He told Mr Clarke that he believed Mr Boland was the man who he heard shouting “George” earlier in the night, as the voice sounded the same.
Mr Junkueira agreed with Garret Baker SC, defending, that he doesn’t know why Mr Viera went back into the house as he had been on the phone to the fire brigade at that time and was distracted.
He agreed that Mr Boland was in the garden the whole time with them after the fire and accepted that “he seemed concerned that George may be in the flat downstairs”.
Mr Junkueira accepted that he previously had problems with noise in the downstairs flat, with people coming and going. The trial continues before Judge Elma Sheahan and a jury of seven men and five women.