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Martial arts instructor convicted of unlawful killing of 56-year-old man

Witnesses say they saw the man arguing with his girlfriend moments before the incident.

Image: RollingNews.ie

A JURY HAS convicted a martial arts instructor of the unlawful killing of a man who had stopped to intervene in a late night “domestic” fight.

Jonathan Dargan (49) was having an argument with his partner on the Harold’s Cross Road, Dublin at around 4am on 6 March, 2016 when Patrick Mullally (56) and Jason Cunningham approached him.

The two men and others had been out celebrating Mr Mullally’s retirement from Guinness.

Mr Cunningham told the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that their intention was to do the “honourable” thing and ask Dargan to leave his girlfriend alone. A passing cyclist testified that he saw a man “throw fairly powerful punches” at an older man while shouting “bang, bang”.

He later saw this man on the ground with his head in his friend’s lap. Mr Mullally suffered a subdural haemorrhage and brain trauma due to a blunt trauma to the face and head and died the next day.

The defendant, who has worked as a doorman at Lillie’s Bordello nightclub, admitted “lashing out” with a punch but claimed that he was surrounded by the men and felt in fear. His lawyers argued that he was acting in self-defence and that his actions were a proportionate response to the threat he perceived.

Dargan of Belfry Manor, Citywest, Dublin denied the unlawful killing of Mr Mullally. He also denied assault causing harm to Mr Cunningham and to Mr Mullally’s niece, Lauren Mullally, during the same incident.

The jury of five women and seven men took a little over four hours to return a unanimous guilty verdict on the manslaughter charge. After deliberating for another hour the jury returned a majority verdict on the charge of assaulting Mr Cunningham.

Eleven jurors agreed on this verdict, with one dissenting. The charge of assaulting Ms Mullally was withdrawn from the jury by Judge Pauline Codd.

Judge Codd thanked jurors and set a date for sentence of January 27 next. She directed a victim impact report and a Probation Service report.

She expressed her sympathy to the Mullally family before remanding Dargan on continuing bail. Fiona Murphy SC, prosecuting, said there was no objection to bail.

In her closing speech Ms Murphy told the jury that to argue self-defence a person must use a reasonable amount of force to protect himself in circumstances where he believes himself to be threatened.

She said it was not believable that Mr Dargan could have perceived a threat. She said CCTV footage did not show the men surrounding him and that only two men had approached him at the time the deceased was knocked down.

“We know he is drunk, he was angry. He was looking to lash out,” she said. The cyclist Shaun O’Donoghue said that he had earlier stopped to speak to Dargan about the row.

“He told me to mind my own business and threatened me that if I didn’t go away he would stamp my head off the ground,” Mr O’Donoghue said

Ms Murphy told the jurors they must next consider if it was a reasonable response to the circumstances he found himself in to break someone’s jaw in two places.

Closing the defence case Vincent Heneghan SC told the jurors that, after his arrest, Mr Dargan gave gardaí a truthful account of what happened. He admitted “lashing out” with a punch but said that he felt threatened by the men.

Mr Dargan told gardaí “I saw three guys coming towards me, I felt like this guy is going to kick the shit out of me”.

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Declan Brennan

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