Man on trial for boy's manslaughter in 2001

Thursday 01 May 2014 11.29
Dermot Griffin has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Stephen Hughes in 2001
Dermot Griffin has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Stephen Hughes in 2001

The trial has begun of a 54-year-old man accused of the manslaughter of a 12-year-old boy in a fire in Dublin almost 13 years ago.

Dermot Griffin of Ballyfermot Road in Dublin has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Stephen Hughes on 1 September 2001.

Prosecuting counsel Mary Rose Gearty told the six men and six women on the jury that at the end of August 2001, a group of children in the Brookfield area of Tallaght had begun to build a makeshift den between two buildings on Rossfield Avenue.

She said it became quite a sizeable den. The children had put down wooden pallets, they had a couple of sofas and had put a roof on it and a couple of doors.

She said on 31 August, Stephen and another boy, Daryl Hall, decided to spend the night in the den.

She said various people were coming in and out of the den during the day and night and they had used candles at some point.

However, she said after 2.30am in the morning, the only two people left were Stephen and Daryl.

She said sometime at around 5am, a fire was started in the den.

Daryl was sleeping at the back and was able to break out of the tent and get over a wall. Stephen was not able to get out and died in the fire.

She said the prosecution case was that Mr Griffin had started the fire.

She said the jury would see a short piece of closed circuit television footage, which showed a figure approaching the den.

The figure was at the front of the den and within seconds a fire started.

She said if someone deliberately commits a criminal and dangerous act and someone else dies as a result, that is manslaughter.

She said the dangerous act here was arson, setting fire to the makeshift den.

She reminded the jurors that they were dealing with an incident that happened in 2001, and they should bear that in mind when listening to the witnesses.

She also told them that at least one of the prosecution witnesses had an addiction to heroin at the time of these events and that was something they also had to bear in mind.

The court heard evidence this afternoon about the exact location where the fire took place.