Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Man beaten to death 'could have had heart attack at any time' - court hears

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A man allegedly beaten to death by his nephews could have had a heart attack "at any time," a jury heard today.

The Belfast Crown Court jury of six men and six women heard evidence from Assistant State Pathologist Dr James Lynas that while the primary cause of Seamus Holland's death were the multiple injuries he sustained at the hands of his nephews Daniel and Gerard Gaskin, his severe heart disease was a "contributing factor".

West Belfast brothers 31-year-old Gerard Gaskin and his younger brother Daniel (22), from Gortnamona Way, deny murdering their 55-year-old uncle on November 21 2010.

Mr Holland was attacked and beaten with an iron bar in the early hours of that Sunday morning in the kitchen of his home at Upton Court and was rushed to hospital but tragically died of a heart attack just after lunchtime that afternoon.

The jury have already heard that it is the Crown case the brothers launched the "savage" attack on Mr Holland amid previous allegations of rape.

Today Dr Lynas recounted to the jury how he found many areas of bruising, abrasions, cuts and puncture stab wounds all over the body of Mr Holland.

The pathologist described how the injuries could have been caused by multiple "forceful blows" from kicks, stamps, punches or from a blunt weapon and said there was a V-shaped mark on Mr Holland's head that would tend to suggest the use of a foot.

As well as that, he said many of the bruises were linear in shape, suggesting the use of a "rod like weapon" to strike him.

Many of the injuries to his arms and head, were what he described as "defensive wounds" indicating that their victim had been putting his arms over his head in an effort to protect himself.

He told prosecuting QC Terence Mooney that when he examined Mr Holland's heart under the microscope, he found that many of his coronary arteries had narrowed ranging from "moderate to severe" with one being no more than a "slit" to supply blood to his heart.

Dr Lynas said while his view was that the assault and the injuries caused was the "primary cause of death" as the wounds and fractures had caused such extensive bleeding, his heart condition was a "contributory factor".

The trial continues.

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