I grabbed knife in bid to stop deadly attack, says murder accused statement
A woman jointly charged with murdering a Co Armagh man told police she played no part in the fatal attack and claimed she grabbed a knife from her co-accused in the midst of the beating, a court has heard.
Stephen Thomas Hughes (29) and Shauneen Boyle (25) are charged with murdering Lurgan man Owen Creaney in July 2014.
Mr Creaney (40) - who the court heard was disabled and used a walking aid - was assaulted in the hallway of Hughes's Moyraferty Court home in the early hours of Thursday, July 3, 2014.
It took two days for him to die from his injuries, before his body was dumped in a green recycling bin.
Both accused have admitted being present during the attack, but both deny murder and have blamed each other.
As well as claiming she disarmed Hughes, Boyle also told police she stopped Hughes from hitting Mr Creaney over the head with a dumbbell as he lay on his back, after being punched, kicked, beaten and stamped on.
When asked why Hughes attacked Mr Creaney, Boyle claimed her co-accused was "on steroids ... his head's been wrecked for weeks". She added that the assault occurred following a row, as Hughes believed Mr Creaney knew who was responsible for breaking into and wrecking his former home earlier that year.
As the murder trial at Belfast Crown Court entered its third week, the jury heard transcripts of police interviews with Boyle following her arrest on July 5, 2014. In the first, the mother-of-one from Edenderry Park in Banbridge refused to answer most questions and gave a largely 'no comment' response.
However, a pre-prepared statement was handed to the PSNI, in which Boyle claimed she played no part in the attack on 'Fonzie', and that while she helped to clean blood from his face in the aftermath of the assault and helped to shower him, she was not involved in a clean-up operation afterwards, or placing his remains in a recycling bin after he died.
She added in her statement that she "did not assault Fonzie in any way". She said: "I tried to keep Stephen Hughes from hitting Fonzie, but every time I did try to stop Stephen, he pushed me away. Each time he pushed me I kept trying to stop him.
"At one point Stephen Hughes had a knife, but I took it off him. I did this by grabbing the blade."
Boyle claims that following the attack in the hallway, she washed blood from Mr Creaney's face and the lino. She said that after the attack, both she and Hughes got Mr Creaney to his feet and carried him up the stairs, where he was placed on a reclining chair in a bedroom. Boyle said she placed a cushion under his head, while Hughes placed a blanket over him.
Boyle claimed that during this process Mr Creaney was "mumbling", but said that was something he did when he was drunk.
She said she also "asked him to squeeze my hand to make sure he was OK. I got him water ... he was mumbling and moving his hand."
In the statement, Boyle also said Mr Creaney "peed himself", and that she and Hughes showered him, then dressed him in some of Hughes' clothing.
She said that when she left the house on Thursday morning, she thought Mr Creaney was OK, that in the past she had known her friend to "sleep for days" and that she didn't think he was badly injured. Boyle also told police that when she returned to Moyraferty Court the following afternoon, Mr Creaney was "sleeping and still mumbling".
She said she checked on him up to 30 times, and that she brought him water and juice.
She said that the following morning, July 5, Hughes told her: "Fonzie is dead."
She said: "I went into the room and saw his face ... it was pure yellow."
Boyle's statement ended by her saying: "I can't believe what has happened. What has happened is wrong. I can't believe Fonzie is dead."
Regarding the victim's remains being put in the bin, Boyle said she didn't assist in any way, and said: "I only knew his body was in the bin because I saw him (Hughes) put it in there." She also said during interviews that after attacking Mr Creaney, Hughes "was walking up and down saying, 'What have I done?' with his hands on his head."
And while she accepted that neither she nor Hughes sought medical attention for Mr Creaney, she told police that when he was upstairs, they both thought Mr Creaney was OK, adding: "If we thought for a second he was going to end up dead, I would have phoned for an ambulance."
The jury has already heard that Mr Creaney died as a result of blunt force trauma to both his chest and head. Mr Creaney's injuries included a total of 15 fractured ribs and a broken breastbone, as well as bleeding of and tearing to the brain.