One-punch killing accused is 'sorry for victim's family'
A Belfast man on trial for causing the death of a young man told police he "felt terrible for his family" but claimed he swung a punch in self defence, a court has heard.
Conan Anderson, from the Short Strand area of Belfast, died in hospital 12 days after an altercation in the city centre.
The 22-year-old was rendered temporarily unconscious after he was struck in the jaw by Lawrence Dowie, which caused him to fall backwards and hit his head off the pavement.
Dowie (28), whose address cannot be published for legal reasons, has been charged with, and denies, manslaughter.
He claimed that after being headbutted by Mr Anderson - who also swung two punches - he struck the other man once with his left hand in self defence.
On the third day of the trial at Belfast Crown Court, the jury heard evidence from a paramedic, who offered Mr Anderson medical assistance as he walked the mile-long journey home from the city centre.
The paramedic said that when he first spoke to Mr Anderson outside the Waterfront Hall, he noted a bit of swelling to the right side of his jaw. From the witness box, the paramedic told the jury: "I looked around his head with a torch. There were no wounds, but it was possible the jaw was fractured."
Mr Anderson refused further medical attention and assistance.
Asked about Mr Anderson's general demeanour, the paramedic replied: "He was quite pleasant, just a young lad that wanted to get home."
The jury also heard police interviews conducted with Dowie, which took place both before and after Mr Anderson passed away.
The altercation took place at around 5.30am on Monday, February 6, last year.
Dowie was initially arrested on February 9, on suspicion of causing Mr Anderson grievous bodily harm with intent. When he was asked about what happened in Arthur's Lane, Dowie made the case that Mr Anderson came at him, headbutted him on the nose, then threw two punches which didn't connect.
Dowie said this caused him to step back, then he threw a single punch which connected with Mr Anderson's jaw and which caused him to fall backwards and hit his head.
Telling officers that as Mr Anderson got up and walked away he "didn't think twice about it", the accused said that after drinking in the storeroom, there was a "bit of a slabbering match" between himself and Mr Anderson, but he thought it was "just a bit a banter".
Dowie also said in the aftermath of the fall, he helped assist Mr Anderson to his feet. The court heard Dowie was arrested again on February 21 - three days after Mr Anderson died from severe head injuries.
And when asked why, if he was right-handed, did he punch Mr Anderson with his left hand, he said "it was just a panic swing".
Repeating his claim that he didn't start the altercation, Dowie said: "I feel terrible for his family and all, but it wasn't my fault like. He came at me. If he hadn't attacked me, it wouldn't have happened, you know what I mean."
The case continues.