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08 Aug 2022

Teen with Laois address "deliberately killed" fisherman, deceased's best friend tells retrial

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

A teenager with a Laios address "deliberately killed" a fisherman by stabbing him in the chest after the man entered the boy's home in the early hours of the morning, the deceased's best friend has told the Central Criminal Court.  

Eye witness Christopher Lee denied that Jack Power had forcibly pushed in the front door of the Kerrie house that night and said the then-17-year-old Dean Kerrie had to make up lies "to get away with it".

When it was suggested to the witness by the defendant's barrister that he had a dislike of Mr Kerrie because of what had happened to his best friend, Mr Lee replied: "I'm telling the truth of what happened that night as it needs to be told". 

The 29-year-old witness also told the jury today that then-teenager Mr Kerrie told "all lies" to gardai saying: "I seen what happened, his only way out of it is to tell lies". 

Mr Lee has been giving evidence over two days in the Central Criminal Court retrial of Mr Kerrie (20), who is charged with murdering 25-year-old Mr Power nearly four years ago.

Mr Kerrie with an address at St Brigid's Square, Portarlington in Co Laois has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Power at Shanakiel, Dunmore East, Co Waterford on July 26, 2018, when he was 17. 

In his evidence, Mr Lee told Michael Delaney SC, prosecuting, that he and Jack were best friends and started primary school together at the same time.

Mr Lee said he saw Jack at the entrance to the Shanakiel estate after 3am on the morning of July 26 and they hugged each other. 

When asked by Mr Delaney if he recalled Jack saying anything, Mr Lee said he remembered Jack saying that Dean Kerrie had broken the wing mirror off his car. "When I ran into him at first he was laughing but I know he was giving out about his car being broke up [sic]," he added.

Mr Lee said as they walked down towards a flowerbed he remembered Jack running towards "the new road". "When I got to the flowerbed Jack was nearly half way down the new road. Jack went left and when he went left I heard glass breaking," he said, adding that he didn't know at the time what had caused the glass to break.

When the witness got around the corner he saw Jack going into the garden of the Kerrie house. "I saw Dean Kerrie's mother coming towards Jack in the garden and Jack pushed her back and she fell over," said Mr Lee.

Mr Lee said he saw Dean in the garden, that he 'came out' towards Jack, turned around and went into the house. "Jack went into the house after him," he added.

Mr Lee said he was "close enough to the front door" of the house and could have been standing on the doorstep. 

The witness said he saw Jack and Dean in the middle bedroom through the window. "I saw pushing in the bedroom, Jack pushing Dean," he continued.

The witness said he thought Dean had left the bedroom first followed by Jack and that they went into the hallway. 

Mr Lee said he had moved to the front door, which was opened, and had a view into the hallway.

"There was a bit of pushing in the hallway. Jack was only a couple of feet away from me. I saw Dean coming from the kitchen with a knife in his hand. Jack was walking out of the house facing me," he continued. 

Asked if anything was said when Dean came into the hall, Mr Lee said the accused had shouted something about the house at Jack.

"Jack was nearly at the front door. Jack turned around and I noticed Dean moving fast and saw a knife in his hand. I saw Dean push his hand towards Jack's chest. Jack was only after turning around and this happened straight away," he said.

Mr Lee said that when Jack turned around towards him he was holding his chest. "I was standing at the door. I was shouting at Jack, I knew what was after happening. I was in shock. I couldn't believe it," he said.

Mr Lee testified that Jack just walked past him and that the colour was gone from his face.

"I just remember Jack lying on the road outside the house. Jack wasn't responding and I didn't have a phone on me," he said.

Mr Lee said he ran to his father's house which was a few doors up in the Shanakiel estate and told him to ring an ambulance for his friend. 

The witness said he picked up a golf club before leaving his father's home and ran back to the Kerrie house. 

"I remember breaking the windows with the golf club. I broke the middle window first," he said.

Asked why he broke the windows, Mr Lee said he was in shock after what he had seen.

At the outset of the cross-examination, Ciaran O'Loughlin SC, for Mr Kerrie, put it to Mr Lee that he was a "school pal" and "best mates" with the accused. "I can understand that you have a great dislike for Mr Kerrie as you think he deliberately killed Jack," said Mr O'Loughlin.

"I know he deliberately killed him, I seen him stab him in the chest [sic]," replied Mr Lee. 

When Mr O'Loughlin put it to the witness that Mr Power had smashed a window in the Kerrie house with a rock, Mr Lee said he knew that a window had been smashed. 

Told by the defence counsel that his memory of that night was "totally hazy", Mr Lee replied: "My best friend had been murdered, it's not totally hazy". 

Mr O'Loughlin suggested to the witness that Mr Power had broken down the front door of the house and burst it open. "No, he definitely didn't," replied Mr Lee.

Counsel said there would be photographs of damage to a chair at a later stage but Mr Lee said he did not know anything about that.

Mr O'Loughlin then read to the witness what his client had told gardai saying: "He should not have come into the house. I was asleep. I heard a smash, the front window breaking. Jack was in the hall and started punching and throwing kicks at my mother. I grabbed a knife that was next to the bed and stabbed him with it".

After the statement was read, Mr Lee said: "That's all lies, I seen what happened. His only way out of it is to tell lies [sic]".

Mr Lee said he saw Mr Kerrie coming from the kitchen with a knife in his hand and put it towards the deceased's upper body. "One hundred percent he came from the kitchen. The house is the same layout as the house I grew up in," he said. 

Mr O'Loughlin put it to the witness that he couldn't have seen beyond Mr Power at the time. "I seen Dean come into the hall with the knife and he ran at Jack and I saw the knife going towards his upper body," he said.

Mr Lee told the jury that he saw Mr Kerrie come out of the house after Mr Power pushed his mother. He said Mr Power had followed Dean into the house and that was how he ended up inside. "It was as if Jack just ran in when the door was still open," he said.

Counsel put it to the witness that he had a dislike of his client because of what had happened to his friend. "I'm telling the truth of what happened that night as it needs to be told," he said.

In summary, Mr O'Loughlin put it to the witness that he had seen no one in the garden that night except Mr Power and that no one had come outside as everyone was asleep in bed. "Ann [Fitzgerald] and Dean were in the garden, they weren't in bed when Jack was in the garden," he replied.

Mr O'Loughlin suggested that the deceased had forcibly pushed in the front door of the house, which Mr Lee denied saying: "These lies he [Mr Kerrie] has to make up to get away with it".

Counsel also suggested to the witness that the knife was on the bed in the bedroom when he [Mr Lee] had been looking in the window which Mr Lee also denied. "Dean came out of the kitchen with a knife and came after Jack as he was leaving the house and shouted something at him and stabbed him in the chest," said the witness.

Mr O'Loughlin said Mr Kerrie had told gardai that Mr Power was in the hall, that he had started punching his mother, that the knife was next to the bed and Mr Kerrie had stabbed the deceased with it in the bedroom doorway. "No, I saw Dean go into the kitchen and get the knife," said Mr Lee. 

When it was put to Mr Lee that he had not seen "the knife incident", Mr Lee insisted he had and said that the accused hadn't given Mr Power a chance. 

Barry Lee, the brother of the previous witness, told Mr Delaney that he ran down the road that night and saw Mr Power lying on the corner and struggling to breathe. He heard the accused shout 'you will never come near this house again'. The witness said it was "as if he [the accused] was proud of what he had done".  

A 999 call made by Mr Kerrie's mother Ann Fitzgerald to emergency services at 3.37am that night was played to the jury. In the audio recording, Ms Fitzgerald told the garda that the windows had been broken in her house. When the garda asked "is that all that is after happening at Shanakiel; your windows have been broken?", Ms Fitzgerald replied "yes" and said a man had broken them. 

A second 999 call made by Mr Kerrie at 3.44am that night was also played for the jury, where the accused said he was asleep in his bed, that an argument had taken place and a window had been smashed in in his house. Mr Kerrie also told gardai on the call that Mr Power, who he knew all his life, had come "in the front door at him" and tried to hit him. He said he had stabbed Mr Power in the chest with a kitchen knife but that he didn't mean to. He said Mr Power might have come to the house to blame him [the accused] for breaking the wing mirror off the deceased's car but that he didn't do anything. 

The retrial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Paul McDermott and a jury of five men and seven women. 

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