A 70-year-old man who was accused of murdering his partner of 36 years has been acquitted at the Central Criminal Court. 

Desmond Duffy denied murdering 59-year-old Desmond Sullivan at the home they shared in Somerville Park in Rathmines in Dublin on 23 May 2016.

The jury of six men and six women were deliberating for seven hours and 11 minutes before delivering a verdict of not guilty. 

Mr Duffy had claimed he was attacked and acted in self defence after suffering 30 years of violence and abuse at Mr Sullivan's hands.

The jury were told that if they found Mr Duffy acted in reasonable self defence he should be acquitted. 

Mr Duffy broke down in tears as the verdict was announced. 

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Mr Duffy's defence counsel, Caroline Biggs, said her client had been acting in self defence after suffering years of violence and abuse.

She said Mr Duffy was a 70-year-old gentleman who had never once raised a hand to anyone before the night of 23 May 2016.

Ms Biggs told the court that Mr Duffy had suffered 30 years of abuse and violence at Mr Sullivan's hands and on the night in question he had been verbally abused and repeatedly punched by Mr Sullivan in the kitchen of their home.

She said Mr Duffy loved Mr Sullivan but witnesses who knew and loved both men had detailed the abuse.

The court heard neighbours confirmed there was a row in the house on the night.

Ms Biggs said Mr Duffy was calling out for help "in desperation and fear" in the moments before Mr Sullivan died. 

She described Mr Duffy as "an easy target" - a man with no family and no confidence. 

Witnesses had described seeing Mr Sullivan punching Mr Duffy and screaming.

Another witness saw Mr Sullivan ordering Mr Duffy to get on his hands and knees to pick up dog food.

There was also evidence that Mr Sullivan threw bleach at Mr Duffy and poured a pint of beer over him in their local pub. 

On the night of 23 May 2016, Mr Duffy had tried to leave the house, but Mr Sullivan had taken his credit card and jacket and continued attacking him.

Ms Biggs said Mr Duffy pushed him away and had told gardaí how he used one hand against Mr Sullivan's neck to restrain him.  

The court was told Mr Sullivan had a heart problem, was drunk and had taken Diazepam, which made him more vulnerable to arrhythmia of the heart. 

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy said Mr Sullivan died from compression of the neck causing a lack of oxygen to the brain.