Belfast Telegraph

Man trying to help dying friend David Mills told 'leave the b****** alone', court hears

BY STAFF REPORTER

A man who rushed to help a dying friend lying in a pool of blood was told to "leave the b****** alone", a court has heard.

David Mills, a former Irish League footballer, received up to 13 punches in an assault in Ballynahinch town centre early on September 30 last year.

The man accused of his murder, John Stanley Foster (31), of Newcastle's Corrigs Road, denies the charge. Foster, a second cousin of the deceased, claims to have been acting in self-defence after Mr Mills provoked a fight.

Giving evidence at Downpatrick Crown Court yesterday, a friend of Mr Mills, Anthony Walsh, said he found the former Portadown player unconscious and covered in blood, lying in the middle of Ballynahinch's Dromore Street.

Mr Walsh had been drinking in a bar in the town with Mr Mills earlier that evening and ran to the scene after his wife alerted him to a fight.

He told the court he heard someone running behind him as he knelt by Mr Mills and a voice saying: "Leave the b****** alone, I have only broke his nose."

"I tried to get a response from him," said Mr Walsh. "I did get his mouth open, but it was full of blood."

Mr Walsh said Mr Mills (47), from Seaforde in Co Down, had been in "very good humour" that night.

"He was drunk a bit, he was not staggering all over the place, he was the same as the rest of us, happy drunk," he said.

Cross-examining, defence lawyer James Gallagher QC pointed out that Mr Walsh's comments in relation to the voice he heard behind him differed from the statement he made to police.

The lawyer said: "I suggest to you that what you said to police was something completely different, that a male voice came from behind and said: 'He's all right, let him lie there'. Is it not that you are trying to infer that it is the defendant who said that?"

Mr Walsh said he didn't know who the voice belonged to. He said the version of events he was providing was the "God's honest truth", and at the time he was speaking to police he was still in shock.

"I witnessed a fellow I was drinking with 10 minutes before lying unrecognisable," he said. "I probably got it wrong in the statement. For months after the incident I was not in a good place."

The court also heard an agreed statement of facts read by prosecuting lawyer Frank O'Donoghue QC, which stated a drunk Foster was arrested a short distance away from the scene by police.

Mr O'Donoghue said: "On arrest Mr Foster became hysterical and cried uncontrollably. He said 'Is there no CCTV? Check the CCTV evidence to show what happened. He came running at me and jumped me'."

When informed the charge had been changed to suspicion of murder, Mr O'Donaghue said Foster became "very upset".

"He put his head in his hands and started talking to himself," said the lawyer. "Mr Foster was heard to say words to the effect of 'What have I done? He hated me. He started it'."

The trial continues.

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