Belfast Telegraph

Duo 'jumped on victim's head like a trampoline'

By Michael Donnelly

A murder victim was treated "like a trampoline" by two men who used their feet as weapons as they jumped on him while he lay defenceless on the ground, a court has heard.

Lee Smyth was so badly beaten that he never regained consciousness, and survived in a vegetative coma for two years before dying in a nursing home.

But Armagh Crown Court was told that 23-year-old soldier Michael Wilson, from Marlacoo Road, Tandragee, did not make any connection between the fight and Mr Smyth's death.

Wilson, who is also accused of stealing a cheap tobacco tin from Mr Smyth, denies murder, along with 24-year-old Gareth McKinney, originally with an address at Charles Park, Portadown.

The court also heard from a witness that it was the victim, 32-year-old heroin addict Mr Smyth, who "threw the first punch" when he confronted Wilson.

Lindsay Bell, a former girlfriend of McKinney, began her evidence in tears, shaking almost uncontrollably.

She agreed with Wilson's defence QC Arthur Harvey that even after Mr Smyth's death, the Royal Irish Regiment soldier "still did not appreciate it was connected with what happened on that path on that day".

The court heard that Mr Smyth was almost unrecognisable when found in the early hours of June 6, 2010 in the Folly area of Armagh by a woman.

He survived in a coma until June 12, 2012.

Prosecution QC Terence Mooney said that as a result of the beating Mr Smyth had suffered a catastrophic brain injury.

The barrister said Mr Smyth was treated "like a trampoline", with his attackers using their "shod feet" as weapons to jump on him as he lay prone, motionless and defenceless on the ground.

Ms Bell said when Mr Smyth first confronted Wilson on the Folly pathway, he threw the first punch and they began fighting. She said she asked McKinney to intervene, but when he ran forward he joined in the fight.

The court also heard that in the hours beforehand Mr Smyth had been involved in two other disputes. On one occasion police found him brandishing a stick at a youth.

The jury also learned he had been in a temper when he had gone out looking for people who had thrown solar lights from his girlfriend's garden at the house.

When he could not find them, he returned to the house and attempted to arm himself with a machete and a kitchen knife, but was prevented by his girlfriend.

The case continues.

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