Teen tells murder trial: I didn’t know victim was a drug user
A teenage friend of a Co Donegal youth who died from brain injuries after he was assaulted in Londonderry just over two years ago said yesterday that he was unaware that the deceased was a drug user.
The allegation was made by defence barrister Brian McCartney QC during the third day of the trial of Sean Cruickshank (21), from Lislane Drive, and Edward McEleney (22), from Circular Road, both in Derry.
Both deny murdering teenager Liam Devlin, from Burnfoot in Co Donegal, on August 4, 2007.
Mr Devlin died after he was kicked and stamped on the head during the assault in Creggan.
At the murder trial in Derry Crown Court, attended by the victim's parents Liam senior and Helen, Stephen Hutton, whom the jury was told was one of several witnesses to the attack, said the deceased and the deceased’s younger brother Sean regularly spent weekends in his Creggan Heights home.
He said he had known the Devlin brothers for about four months. Asked by Mr McCartney, who represents Cruickshank, if he was aware that the deceased took drugs in large quantities, Mr Hutton said he did not know that and he added “that is the truth”.
The defence barrister also put it to the witness that the deceased took ecstasy and MDMA in large quantities “above and beyond recreational use”.
Mr McCartney told the jurors that one of the problems associated with taking ecstasy tablets was that they gave the user “a feeling of euphoria, you feel as if you could take the world on”.
The witness repeated that he had never seen his friend taking ecstasy tablets nor was he aware that the deceased had ever done so.
The jury was also told that another prosecution witness, Declan Gillespie from Rinmore Drive in the Creggan estate, who has yet to give evidence, was convicted on January 9 of last year of inflicting grievous bodily harm on the defendant Cruickshank.
Mr McCartney said that as a result of that assault in which “Declan Gillespie shoved a broken bottle into my client's face, my client is now scarred for life”.
The witness agreed that while he was an intimate friend of Mr Gillespie, he had never been told by him of the circumstances of the assault on the defendant Cruickshank. He denied Mr McCartney's assertion that he and his friends, on the night of Mr Devlin's death, had “deliberately orchestrated a confrontation which backfired in the most tragic of circumstances and that is why you are so riddled with guilt”.
The trial, which is expected to last six weeks, continues.