The trial of Dane Pearse started today. The 21-year old, from Londonbridge Drive in Islandbridge in Dublin 4, is accused of the murder of Mark Spellman (26) who died from stab wounds after an altercation on an August night last year. He denies the charge.
Today we heard evidence from one of Mr Spellman’s friends, Oisin Hoctor, who told the court that he and Mr Spellman had been at a leaving do for a colleague of theirs from the Google offices in Dublin.
The evening had started out pleasantly enough, he said, with him enjoying a couple of pints in the beer garden of the Beggars Bush pub on Haddington Road. He was joined by Mr Spellman and his girlfriend and eventually, after a couple more pints they moved on the the leaving party which was being held at the 51 pub nearby.
At the end of the night, Mr Hoctor, Mr Spellman and another friend headed off. There had been the suggestion of a party and Mr Hoctor told the court he was hoping to persuade Mr Spellman to go to that as the three of them walked along to a nearby Spar shop.
But the lure of video games and drink in the comfort of Mr Spellman’s Sandymount apartment was too enticing and a plan was reached. They bought provisions; Pringles and some Coke for mixers, before starting the walk back.
Mr Hoctor described a normal enough night out. He and his friend were fooling around, he said, and Mr Spellman was walking ahead trying to speed them up as the going was slow that night. He said he had run home to fetch a bottle of vodka he remembered having and caught up the other two at a bridge crossing the Dodder.
He actually got there first, the others had slowed down again and took their time reaching him, he told the court. But the evening that had started out so pleasantly was to have a tragic ending.
Mr Hoctor said he had barely noticed the couple walking ahead. He and his friend were talking and didn’t notice that Mr Spellman had widened the gap between them. He said he could hear some kind of shouting up ahead but didn’t think much of it.
When Mr Spellman reached Londonbridge Road, the corner of Londonbridge Drive to be exact, he stopped. Mr Hoctor said he couldn’t see who he was talking to but told the court he and his friend speeded up because they knew Mr Spellman had got involved with something that wasn’t his business.
They arrived to see Mr Spellman talking to a man and a woman. Mr Hoctor said the couple were both shouting and acting aggressively and he heard Mr Spellman say “Calm down, Buddy”. He thought he was calling the man “Dave”.
Things escalated and Mr Hoctor told the jury that he saw the man run at Mr Spellman, who raised his foot and connected with the man’s chest. The man ended up on his arse but seemed to calm down a bit.
There were more words and the two sides separated. Mr Hoctor said they were laughing about the incident but he didn’t remember Mr Spellman explaining exactly what had happened.
A short time later they heard running footsteps and Mr Hoctor said he recognised the same man running towards them. He said the man was holding what looked like two weapons one in each hand and was running straight at Mr Spellman.
The force with which they connected was enough to carry them into the middle of the garden of one of the nearby houses.Mr Hoctor told the court that he was panicking and couldn’t get the garden gate open. It must have taken him several seconds and when he did get it open the man ran past him, away down Londonbridge Drive.
Mr Hoctor fought back tears as he described finding his friend in the darkness of the garden. He saw a “shininess” in the light from the street lights and found a knife, he estimated to be about 8″ long. He could see blood on the blade.
He swallowed as he described pulling Mr Spellman into the light so he could see how badly he was injured. The court was quiet, apart from the sobs from Mr Spellman’s family, as he described seeing a knife wound on Mr Spellman’s right side. He said he knew it was bad as he could see what he thought were intestines sticking out.
In the prosecution opening speech this morning we heard that two ambulances were called that night for both the deceased and the accused, who had returned home wounded. We heard that Mark Spellman was pronounced dead at 3.25 that morning, August 4th.
The trial is expected to last until sometime in the middle or end of next week. But once again, there are two families for who the events of that night will last much longer than that.