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Irish men acquitted of murdering homeless pensioner in Sydney

They both had pleaded not guilty to the murder and said they had responded to an attack by the man.

A screengrab of CCTV images of Christopher McLaughlin (blue shirt) leaving the Summer Hill Hotel on December 28, 2018, in the company of neighbour Lucy Lovett and her partner.
A screengrab of CCTV images of Christopher McLaughlin (blue shirt) leaving the Summer Hill Hotel on December 28, 2018, in the company of neighbour Lucy Lovett and her partner.
Image: AAP - PR IMAGE

TWO IRISH MEN have been acquitted of murdering a homeless pensioner after arguing they were attacked by the 66-year-old at the end of a drunken night out in Sydney.

Nathan Kelly, 23, and Christopher McLaughlin, 25 – both from Donegal – had pleaded not guilty to murdering Paul Tavelardis, who died nine days after an altercation with the Irishmen in Grosvenor Crescent, Summer Hill on December 29, 2018.

Both men had argued they never formed intent to kill or cause really serious harm and had responded to an attack by Paul Tavelardis, who lived in his car on the street.

The Crown had argued the younger men had repeatedly hit the pensioner after he fell to the ground – a claim denied by both men.

Not guilty verdicts

After deliberating for almost a week, the NSW Supreme Court jury returned not guilty verdicts to both murder and manslaughter this morning.

Justice Geoffrey Bellew thanked jurors for their service, saying “sitting in judgment of another person is not an easy task, as I’m sure each of you appreciate”.

Both accused men, from Donegal in Ireland, had spent more than 20 months on remand and have since had their working holiday visas revoked.

That prompted debate after the verdicts as Justice Bellew questioned whether a Corrective Services officer could continue to hold Kelly and McLaughlin before immigration authorities arrived at court.

“Mr Kelly is prepared to go with him to immigration authorities. He doesn’t want to be wandering around the community,” the Irishman’s lawyer said.

“He wants to go home, I imagine,” Justice Bellew replied.

McLaughlin also indicated he was prepared to wait in the court for immigration authorities to arrive.

Suburb

Over the three-week trial, the jury had heard the two men had been drinking heavily throughout the afternoon and evening before the 12.30am incident.

After lying down in Summer Hill railway station as they stumbled around the suburb, they got in a car and loudly drove laps of the suburb.

On their return to Grosvenor Cres where they also lived, the two men said they found Tavelardis trying to break into McLaughlin’s ute.

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Both men’s barristers said, after a short conversation, the older man struck out at Mr Kelly with a metal pipe.

A neighbour recalled hearing a loud scream of “fear” and peering out his window to see Tavelardis run around his car with a large item in his hand towards the tradesmen.

But the other men began viciously beating him, the neighbour told the jury.

Police arriving on scene a minute later found McLaughlin standing in the middle of the street, with bloodied knuckles, fingers and ankles.

In a later police interview, Kelly lifted his top to show a welt on his back where he said Tavelardis had struck him on the back.

Kelly had been kicked out of the pub before the attack while McLaughlin was described by a witness as “blind drunk” about 11pm.

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