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Monday 18 December 2017

'I need to give him peace' - stab murder accused 'told gardai'

Victim Gerard Burnett was stabbed to death in August 2012
Victim Gerard Burnett was stabbed to death in August 2012

The trial of a man accused of murdering a father-of-one has heard the deceased suffered 30 stab wounds when he was attacked in north Dublin.

The court heard the accused subsequently told gardai that he was involved with the incident, and said: "The chap is dead now and I need to give him peace."

Seamus Clarke SC yesterday opened the Central Criminal Court trial of Andrew Gibney (25), of Dromheath Avenue, Mulhuddart, Dublin, who has pleaded not guilty to murdering Gerard Burnett (28), at Castlecurragh Vale, Mulhuddart, Dublin, on August 21, 2012.

Mr Clarke told the jury that it is being alleged that Mr Gibney murdered Mr Burnett.

The accused was 20 years old at the time and both men lived in Mulhuddart, not far from each other, he said.

Knives

Counsel said the prosecution alleges that Mr Gibney and four other men went to Mr Burnett's home shortly before midnight on the night in question.

"At least two of the men were armed with knives, one being the accused man," he said.

Detailing the evidence to be heard, Mr Clarke said that Mr Burnett heard the doorbell ring and answered the door.

Counsel said the prosecution case is that Mr Burnett was pulled out of the house, and he met his death after 30 wounds in total were inflicted on him.

Mr Clarke went on to tell the jury that it would hear from Mr Burnett's partner, Denise Farrell, who was in the house at the time.

The barrister said the jury would also hear evidence from Chief State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy, who found multiple stab wounds to Mr Burnett's head, neck and chest.

There were six stab wounds to the right side of his chest, causing damage to his lungs and liver, he added.

Mr Clarke said a search later took place at Mr Gibney's home and the accused went to a garda station with his father the following day.

Mr Gibney allegedly told gardai that he was involved in the incident, and said: "The chap is dead now and I need to give him peace."

Prosecution counsel Vincent Heneghan SC called Ms Farrell, the partner of Mr Burnett, to give evidence.

Ms Farrell said she was in a relationship with the deceased for five-and-a-half years and they had a son together.

The witness agreed with counsel that Mr Burnett was not working at the time of his death and he was occasionally in trouble with the law.

She agreed he sold ecstasy on a small scale and - if the off-licence was shut - bottles of wine, but they would always get a phone call if someone was calling up to the house to purchase alcohol, the court heard.

Ms Farrell said she and her partner were in the sitting room when the doorbell rang at 11.45pm on August 21.

"I said not to answer the door but he said he would get it," said Ms Farrell.

The witness said she was standing behind her partner when he opened the door.

She said she could only see a man wearing a scarf with his hood up and she did not recognise him.

Ms Farrell said she heard someone ask: "Are you Ger Burnett?"

Her partner replied: "Yeah, why?"

Dead

Ms Farrell said she then heard someone say: "Ger Burnett, you're f**king dead."

The witness said she did not know how many people were at the door but could hear people on the other side. She agreed with counsel that her partner was pulled out of the house.

The witness said she closed the door, ran upstairs to get her child, who was asleep, and rang the gardai before running out of the back of the house.

She subsequently learned that her partner was taken to hospital and later died.

Under cross-examination by the defence, Ms Farrell denied that there was a discussion about alcohol at the door on the night.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Paul Butler and a jury of five men and seven women.

It is expected to last up to three weeks.

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