Man tells court how co-accused slid victim Owen Creaney into bin
A Co Armagh man standing trial for murder has told a jury that he played no part in a fatal beating which took place in his Craigavon home.
Stephen Thomas Hughes broke down in tears as he described how he and co-accused Shaunean Boyle "slid" victim Owen Creaney's remains into a wheelie bin.
Hughes and 25-year-old Boyle are jointly charged with murdering the 40-year-old Lurgan man in 2014.
While both defendants have admitted being in the house when Mr Creaney was attacked, they each deny involvement in the brutal beating and have each claimed the other was responsible for the violence.
Hughes (29) denied any involvement - claiming Boyle, from Edenderry Park in Banbridge, was solely responsible.
However, when he was being questioned about his version of events by Boyle's barrister, it was suggested that his criminal record - which includes six convictions for assaults - demonstrated a propensity to "use violence upon vulnerable victims".
The jury has already heard that the 29-year-old father of one's violent past includes head-butting his then three-month pregnant girlfriend and punching her in the chest, beating a 14-year-old with a baseball bat, and assaulting his father.
Mr Creaney was subjected to a fatal beating in the hallway of Hughes' Moyraverty Court home.
When asked by his barrister to explain what happened in the early hours of July 3, 2014, Hughes claimed that he, Boyle and Mr Creaney went back to his house after drinking.
Revealing that they were all drunk, Hughes said that in the living room, Boyle and Mr Creaney got into a row about a man linked to a prior sledgehammer attack on Boyle's father.
Setting out his version of events, Hughes told the court: "At some stage Owen had got up to go to the toilet and as that happened, I reached down, just to the fireplace, to get my phone to change the music.
"He (Owen) was going to the toilet, he was going somewhere... then I heard like a thud. I walked over towards the hallway, once I heard the thud, and I seen Shaunean punching Owen in the hallway, just under the stairs.
"When Owen got up, Shaunean must have got up as well, and obviously hit him. Owen was lying in his back in the hall. Shaunean was in front of him. He was lying down and she was standing over looking at him."
Hughes also claimed that he witnessed Boyle "kicking and stamping on him", and said: "I seen a couple of stamps to the chest. I think there were a couple of kicks to his side, too."
He continued: "When she was kicking and stamping him, I ran over to try and grab her and she flung me off and she continued kicking and stamping."
Saying the attack "happened so quickly", Hughes said he shouted at Boyle, and did his best to stop her.
When asked how the assault came to an end, Hughes replied: "Maybe she just realised what she was doing. When I raised my voice and went back to her again, there was another stamp and then she stopped."
Following the attack, the pair carried their friend up the stairs and placed him on a sofa in an upstairs bedroom.
Mr Creaney was left in the bedroom for two days, and when he succumbed to fatal chest and head wounds, his remains were placed into a wheelie bin.
Hughes claimed that during the period between the beating and Mr Creaney passing away, he at first didn't consider calling an ambulance as he didn't think the other man was seriously injured, just drunk.
He, however, claimed that as time passed, he became more concerned for his friend. He also said that he told Boyle he was going to call an ambulance, but that she told him not to.
When he was asked about his friend's death and how his remains ended up in the wheelie bin, Hughes said it was Boyle who suggested putting the body in the bin.
Hughes was cross-examined by Boyle's barrister, John Kearney QC, who branded his version of events as wrong.
It is Boyle's case that it was Hughes, and not her, who attacked Mr Creaney. She also claimed that during the attack, she had to take both a knife and a dumbbell off Hughes.
When it was put to Hughes that it was he and not Boyle who launched the fatal attack, Hughes refuted this and again blamed his co-accused.
Mr Kearney then told him: "I suggest what you are doing here, Mr Hughes, is role reversal.
"You are attributing to Ms Boyle the assault that you delivered to Mr Creaney, your friend. Isn't that what happened? You are leaving out your own kicks to the head."
Hughes replied "no."