'I did not kill Eamonn', claw hammer murder accused Power tells victim's family in courtroom
A man standing trial for murder addressed the victim's family from the witness box yesterday, telling them: "I didn't kill Eamonn."
Christopher Power, who is originally from Co Offaly, is one of two men being tried at Belfast Crown Court for the March 2014 murder of Eamonn Ferguson.
The 35-year-old north Belfast man was beaten to death with a claw hammer at a house in Ardoyne Place.
From the witness box, 33-year-old Power - who described himself as a settled Traveller - completely rejected claims that he beat Mr Ferguson to death.
Addressing members of Mr Ferguson's family, who sat in the public gallery, Power said: "I never hurt Eamonn. I was good friends with him."
He also told the victim's family: "I would have stopped it, I promise you. If I knew his life was in danger, I would have warned him."
The accused told the court that he came to Northern Ireland from the Republic in 2013, and made his living busking on the street with his guitar.
He said that after arriving in Belfast he became friends with Mr Ferguson due to a mutual love of music, and said Mr Ferguson "showed me the sights and sounds of Belfast... I was very good friends with Eamonn".
Power and co-accused Louis Maguire (28) have both been charged with murdering Mr Ferguson in the early hours of March 15, 2014 in the living room of Maguire's home.
At the time of the death Power had been staying at Maguire's after losing his place in a city centre hostel.
Last week Maguire gave evidence and said that after drinking in the city centre, he, Power and Mr Ferguson went back to his house.
He claimed that Power and Mr Ferguson had been arguing about money, and as he turned his back to get a bottle of cider from the kitchen Power grabbed a hammer and proceeded to beat Mr Ferguson to death.
Maguire's claims were rejected by Power, who took to the witness box to refute them.
Telling the court he wasn't a murderer, Power pointed to where co-accused Maguire was sitting and said "the coward that killed Eamonn is sitting in the dock". Clearly emotional, Power said that he used to teach Eamonn music on his guitar. He added: "The God's honest truth is there was never so much as a wrong word between me and Eamonn. I had no problem with him. I liked him. He was a good friend of mine."
When asked what happened, Power said that due to an alcoholic blackout he couldn't remember leaving the city centre and getting a taxi back to Maguire's, but he remembered waking up in an upstairs bedroom in the early hours of the next morning.
He said he got up to go and get a drink from downstairs, and when he walked into the living room he noticed Mr Ferguson "just wasn't lying right."
He said he then saw blood and a hole in his friend's head.
When asked where Maguire was, Power said he was sitting in a chair with a hammer in his hand. Power claimed Maguire then got off the chair and told Power "he done me in and I stiffed the b*****d".
Power said he then panicked and ran out of the house. Telling the court "my head was going 120 miles per hour", Power said he was fearful, as he was in an unfamiliar area and didn't know what to do.
He also denied burning blood-stained clothing in the aftermath of the murder, and said it was Maguire who suggested coming up with a story about going out for cigarettes and coming back to his house to find Eamonn dead.
He admitted lying to paramedics and police about what had happened, but said he didn't hurt Mr Ferguson.
Power also admitted having a criminal record that included a conviction for assaulting a Polish man and rendering him unconscious in the centre of Belfast in 2013.
While he admitted the assault, he said he acted in self-defence after the man kicked out and broke his guitar, or as Power put it, his "livelihood".