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Azzam's mum storms from court as teen found not guilty of his murder in brawl

Manslaughter verdict as boy (17) convicted of knife killing

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The scene near where Azzam was stabbed

The scene near where Azzam was stabbed

Azzam Raguragui

Azzam Raguragui

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The scene near where Azzam was stabbed

A teenager has been found not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of another youth during a row in a Dublin park.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be identified because he is a minor, pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the start of the trial, but his plea was rejected by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The victim, Azzam Raguragui (18), died after suffering five stab wounds in Finsbury Park, Dundrum, on May 10 last year.

One of the wounds severed an artery and caused massive blood loss, leading to his death.

The boy's defence argued that he believed he was acting in self-defence during a "terrifying brawl", having seen his friend punched, knocked to the ground and kicked repeatedly.

Wept

The jury was told that if the boy honestly believed he was acting in self-defence but used more force than was reasonably necessary, he should be found guilty of the lesser charge.

The jury found by a majority verdict of 10 to two, after more than 13 hours of deliberations, that the accused was not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

Mr Raguragui's mother stormed from the court and repeatedly shouted "It's not fair" after the verdict was read out.

The defendant wept as he was hugged by members of his family before being taken to Oberstown Detention Centre, where he will remain until a sentence hearing on October 12.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott thanked the jury and invited the victim's family to make a statement to the court at the sentence hearing.

The trial had heard that earlier on the day of the fight there had been a confrontation between Mr Raguragui and friends of the accused.

It was alleged that someone in the accused's group had stolen a bike, and some of the accused's friends said Mr Raguragui threatened one of them.

The accused's friends then met at a house in what the prosecution said was preparation for the later confrontation.

In a statement to gardaí, one of the boys present at the house said the accused had the knife on him at that point.

He said the boy showed the knife around and asked him to look after it and give it back later.

The same boy told gardaí that as they entered Finsbury Park and saw members of the other group, the accused asked for the knife back.

In his evidence before the court, the witness changed his story, saying the accused did not know anything about the knife until they were entering Finsbury Park.

He said the accused took the knife from him so that they would not get into trouble.

The trial heard from members of both groups.

There was general agreement that the two groups met at Finsbury Park coming up to 8pm and there was a discussion that went on for 10 to 15 minutes without incident.

There was talk about the stolen bike but no violence, aggression or threats.

When another member of the accused's group, who was the subject of the alleged earlier threat by Mr Raguragui, arrived, the atmosphere changed.

Each side had a different story about what happened next.

Mr Raguragui's friends insisted that violence broke out after the newcomer punched Mr Raguragui in the forehead.

The accused's defence denied this and pointed to a patholo- gist's report that showed no sign of blunt force trauma to Mr Raguragui's forehead.

Ringleader

The accused, in a statement to gardaí, said Mr Raguragui "started the whole thing" and was the "ringleader", while the accused's friends said the fight broke out after a member of Mr Raguragui's group punched one of their group and kicked him when he fell.

Mr Raguragui's friends said that during the fight they saw Mr Raguragui run up a slope and fall.

At about that moment, they heard a shout of "knife" and said they saw the accused run after the deceased and stab him while he lay on the ground.

The defence questioned the credibility of these accounts, suggesting that Mr Raguragui's friends made up this part of the story in a bid to get justice for their friend.

The defence said the pathologist had agreed that the injuries suffered by Mr Raguragui could have been caused while he was standing up, and pointed out that three independent witnesses who were walking through the park did not see anyone being stabbed on the ground.

In his charge to the jury, Mr Justice McDermott said that if they found the accused believed he was defencing himself but used more force than a reasonable person would consider necessary, he should be found guilty of manslaughter.

He further told them that if the force used in inflicting the wounds was the result of a planned attack, or due to anger or retaliation, then the defence of self-defence was not open to him.

Acting State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan told the trial she found four stab wounds on the victim and a superficial wound also caused by the knife.

The fatal wound to the chest severed the subclavian artery, causing massive blood loss, collapse and death within a short period. The other injuries, she said, contributed to his death through blood loss.