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Wednesday 14 November 2018

'It was self-defence' - Big Des (70) denies murder of Little Des, his husband-to-be

Desmond Duffy denies murdering his partner, Desmond Sullivan
Desmond Duffy denies murdering his partner, Desmond Sullivan

A 70-year-old man told gardai he was acting in self- defence when he strangled his husband-to-be, a murder trial has heard.

Desmond Duffy has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Desmond Sullivan at their home in Somerville Park, Rathmines, on May 23, 2016.

Conor Devally, prosecuting, told a jury of six men and six women at the Central Criminal Court that because both men shared the same first name, Mr Sullivan was known to his friends as 'Little Des', while Mr Duffy was known as 'Big Des'.

Both men were in a civil partnership and were due to be married in July 2017.

Mr Devally said the men were drinking partners and partners in life.

Drinking

The court was told that on May 23, 2016, after "a fair amount of drinking", the men went home.

There was a row and in the wake of that, Mr Sullivan lay dead in the doorway of the downstairs bathroom.

Mr Duffy contacted Mr Sullivan's nephew, Garda Maurice Ward, who called gardai and the emergency services. Mr Devally said that when Mr Duffy spoke to gardai, he suggested he was acting in self-defence.

He told gardai that he was not the aggressor and that he fended off an attack by squeezing Mr Sullivan, strangling his airways and causing his death.

Gda Ward yesterday told the court that he received a call from Mr Duffy at about 10.15pm on May 23, 2016, asking him to call over.

The jury was told that Gda Ward asked Mr Duffy: "Is everything OK?" Mr Duffy replied: "No, it's not OK."

Gda Ward arrived at the house at about 10.45pm. Mr Duffy was "shook" and apol- ogised for bringing him there.

Gda Ward said he could tell from Mr Duffy's demeanour that something serious had happened and asked if an ambulance was needed. Mr Duffy said: "Yes, I think so."

Gda Ward asked Mr Duffy if Mr Sullivan was dead. Again, Mr Duffy replied: "Yes, I think so."

Gda Ward saw Mr Sullivan's body in a doorway leading to the bathroom and knew he had been dead for some time.

Mr Duffy told the garda that the men had a physical fight and raised his hands to his neck area, saying that he put his hands up and Mr Sullivan fell to the ground.

Gda Ward told Caroline Biggs, defending, that he had known Mr Duffy since 1996, and that he always seemed to be a gentle person

He said he met Mr Duffy and Mr Sullivan three or four times a year and never saw Mr Duffy being physically or verbally aggressive.

Intelligent

Gda Ward told the court that both men were intelligent and great company.

"They were a pleasure to be around. You wouldn't be short of conversation with them," he said.

He further accepted that they were due to be married in July 2017.

The trial will continue today in front of the jury and Mr Justice Paul McDermott.

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