26 Jun 2022

Jury to begin deliberations next week in Naas baseball bat murder trial

A jury will begin its deliberations next week in the trial of a man charged with murdering a 20-year-old with one blow of a baseball bat.  

Justice Michael White spent two days 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.

Mr Justice White told the jurors they must be unanimous in their verdict. “You have to consider a unanimous verdict until I direct you otherwise,” he said.

Mr Justice White also asked the jury to phrase any questions they may have so those outside the jury do not know what’s going on inside the jury room. He then explained that the jury could not deliberate in the actual jury room because of the pandemic.

Instead, the courtroom was cleared of all notes and exhibits, so that it could be turned into the jury room. The jury of seven men and five women will begin their deliberations on Monday morning at 10.30am.

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