Zoltan Almasi found guilty of Naas murder

Thursday 10 March 2016 23.37
Zoltan Almasi will be sentenced for the murder of Joseph Dunne on Wednesday
Zoltan Almasi will be sentenced for the murder of Joseph Dunne on Wednesday

A 44-year-old man has been found guilty of the murder of a man in Naas almost two years ago.

Zoltan Almasi from Harbour View, Naas, Co Kildare had pleaded not guilty to the murder of 20-year-old Joseph Dunne in May 2014.

Mr Dunne, from Athy, had been out with friends in Naas who said he was "in a bad mood" and thumped a van which was parked on the road on which he was walking along.

The van belonged to Almasi who chased after him with a baseball bat and hit him once on the side of the head.

In Garda interviews, Almasi  at first denied hitting Mr Dunne but later said he could not remember everything as things happened so fast and he was angry.

He said he only intended to swing the bat towards the young man, he did not deliberately hit him and it was most likely an accident if he did.

After deliberating for 11 hours since Monday the jury at the Central Criminal Court found Almasi guilty of murder by a majority verdict.

He will be given the mandatory life sentence next Wednesday.

A post-mortem examination showed Mr Dunne died from a severe traumatic head injury caused by one substantial blow.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis agreed the injury could have been caused by the very tip of the baseball bat.

Lawyers for Almasi had told the jury he had reached out with "a reckless swipe rather than a deliberate blow".

Defence Counsel Colm O’Briain said there was insufficient evidence for the jury to be satisfied he had deliberately struck Mr Dunne in the head.

Mr O’Briain said there was evidence that Almasi’s van had been hit loudly a number of times although there was no evidence of damage.

He said his client had brought out the baseball bat to protect himself if necessary because Mr Dunne and his friends were bigger than him. 

Mr O’Briain said this was a wrongful killing but it was not murder.

However lawyers for the prosecution said it was inconceivable that Almasi could not have known if he had hit Mr Dunne.

Prosecuting counsel Bernard Condon said he was out to get Mr Dunne and he did so with a large baseball bat - a lethal weapon when yielded in that way.

He said the natural and probable result of such conduct was serious injury, it was "not an accident when a baseball bat comes down on someone's head".

He said regret did not defeat intent.

He said "you can regret something for the rest of your life but that does not change the fact that you did it".