The family of Mark Spellman sobbed quietly as they listened again and again to accounts of the horrific wounds he received in an altercation with Dane Pearse. Pearse himself hung his head and looked at his hands as the court heard accounts of a fight with a tragic ending that broke out in the small hours of August 4th last year.
His defence counsel Diarmaid McGuinness fiercely cross examined Spellman’s friends about what happened to lead to the altercation. We heard that the night had started well. Mr Spellman had been out with friends from Google where he worked. One of them, Finbar O’Mahony was leaving to go travelling and by all accounts it was a good night.
Mark, Finbar and another friend Oisin Hoctor decided to go back to Mark’s flat in Sandymounth to have a few more drinks and spend the rest of the night playing on his Playstation. His two friends told the court that the three of them were in high spirits, fooling around and joking as they slowly made their way towards Sandymount.
Hoctor bowed his head and laughed to himself as he heard O’Mahony describe tipping Mark over a low wall they were sitting on. The deceased man had been in good form that night both men told the court. Stopping off at a Spar shop on the way, Mark opened the back door of a parking car and made to get in, once again fooling around.
But the testimony rapidly took a darker turn. O’Mahony told the court he had seen Pearse stab his friend in the side. Pearse denies the murder of Mark Spellman but his defense counsel have acknowledged that he went back to his house and came back out armed with a bat and an ornamental dagger he had in his bedroom. It was this knife that inflicted the fatal injuries.
Lola Simpson, in whose garden Mark had lain dying, painted a vivid picture of a terrifying encounter, overheard from her bedroom above. She described how she had been woken that night by people talking loudly as they passed by the house. She was lying awake in her bed, she said when she heard some more people approaching.
It was just “chitter chatter” she said, “quiet conversation.” They didn’t have local accents. She thought that some had been from the country and one voice was “very refined”. She listened to them pass and settled back down to sleep.
Then she heard screaming and the sounds of panic. She smiled nervously as she asked was it acceptable to say the words she had heard in court. “You are not allowed to censor the evidence.” Mr Justice Paul Carney told her from the lofty height of his bench.
Her garden gate, stiff at the best of times was slammed open with great force. Then she heard someone running. “It was very frightening running, a stampede towards my front door.”
She said she heard a shout, like a howl, which made her jump out of bed and rush to the window. Peeping out of the shutters she could see someone lying in the long grass at the end of the garden. She hurried downstairs, stopping only to put on her slippers and dressing gown and went outside.
There she found Oisin Hoctor bending over his stricken friend. He was trying to lift him up. “He got him up on his feet. He just melted. He melted between the guys hands onto the ground.” Her voice breaking with emotion she described the wound she could now see in Mark Spellman’s side. Mark’s family wept openly as she described a gaping wound, with his intestines showing through.
Finbar O’Mahony told the court that he had his phone in his hand when Dane Pearse walked by him out of the garden a short time before Mrs Simpson came out. He said Pearse had blood on his sleeve and turned towards him as he walked away with the girl in a white dress he may or may not have been arguing with a short time earlier. “You’d better get an ambulance for your friend,” he said calmly, according to O’Mahony’s recollection.