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Murder accused told gardaí he was victim of domestic violence

Independent.ie logo Independent.ie 5 days ago Eoin Reynolds

Desmond Duffy has pleaded not guilty to murder. Photo: Collins Courts © Provided by Irish Independent Desmond Duffy has pleaded not guilty to murder. Photo: Collins Courts A 70-year-old man told gardaí he was the victim of domestic violence and abuse for years from his partner who he is accused of murdering.

Desmond 'Des' Duffy has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Desmond 'Dessie' Sullivan (59) at the home they shared in Somerville Park, Rathmines, Dublin 6, on May 23, 2016. He is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Detective Inspector Martin O'Neill told prosecuting counsel Conor Devally SC that he interviewed Mr Duffy at a Garda station on May 24, 2016.

During those interviews, Det Insp O'Neill agreed Mr Duffy told him he had been in a violent and abusive relationship with the deceased for many years. He said Mr Sullivan was a heavy drinker and cannabis user and had become more psychotic and paranoid over the years.

The accused further told gardaí that he had previously ended up in A&E after Mr Sullivan threw bleach over him.

On other occasions he said Mr Sullivan poured milk over him, hit him with a mug leaving him with a scar on his head, poured a pint over him and, at his brother's funeral, emptied a basket of sausages and chips over his head.

On the night of May 23, he said, they had been drinking in a local pub and shortly after they arrived home Mr Sullivan started attacking him in the kitchen. Mr Duffy went to bed to avoid a violent episode but, he told gardaí, Mr Sullivan pulled the bed clothes off him and started punching him. 

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Mr Duffy said he went to the kitchen to get his jacket as he wanted to stay in a hotel, as he had done previously. But Mr Sullivan told him he had hidden it and began taunting Mr Duffy, saying: "F*** off and go stay in your hotel."

The argument continued for about 40 to 50 minutes with occasional breaks. In the kitchen, Mr Duffy said the deceased attacked him again and he tried to restrain Mr Sullivan, to prevent him punching, by reaching out his right hand, putting his arm around Mr Sullivan's neck and pushing Mr Sullivan against a wall. Mr Sullivan fell to the ground and stopped moving.

Mr Duffy was worried so he called Garda Maurice Ward, a relative of the deceased.

Gda Ward has previously told the trial that Mr Sullivan was dead when he arrived at about 10.45pm, about 30 minutes after receiving the call.

Gardaí asked Mr Duffy if he checked on Mr Sullivan during this time and he said he didn't, that he was in a state of shock.

When they asked why he didn't call an ambulance he said he was very drunk, and didn't think Mr Sullivan was injured. He added: "I certainly didn't think he was dead."

Garda Michael Cunningham told Mr Devally that in October 2013 he responded to a report of a domestic dispute at their home. Mr Sullivan told him they had been in an argument and Mr Sullivan told him that he threw bleach at Mr Duffy.

Katie Daffy, a neighbour, told defence counsel Caroline Biggs she overheard heated arguments between the pair every two to three months.

She said it seemed to her Mr Sullivan was usually the aggressor but on the night he died she noted both men were equally abusive and it sounded like Mr Duffy had "snapped" and argued back.

The trial will continue on Monday.

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