Daugh­ter tells how her fa­ther’s ‘life and dig­nity’ was taken by his killer

Fingal Independent - - NEWS - By EOIN REYNOLDS

A 31-year-old has been sen­tenced to life in prison for mur­der­ing a man fol­low­ing a drunken row over a cig­a­rette on North Street in Swords.

Fol­low­ing the ver­dict the de­ceased’s daugh­ter Shawna Byrne, from Swords, gave an emo­tional state­ment, telling the court her fam­ily’s world stopped the day he died, ‘his life and his dig­nity taken in an ab­so­lutely sav­age way’.

An­thony Walsh (31) was found guilty of the mur­der of 54-year-old lo­cal man, Der­mot Byrne at North St, Swords, Co Dublin on July 16, 2017 by a unan­i­mous jury ver­dict. The six men and six women spent two hours and 41 min­utes con­sid­er­ing their ver­dict.

Shawna told pros­e­cut­ing coun­sel Vin­cent Heneghan SC that her fam­ily had tick­ets to the Dublin GAA semi-fi­nal the day their dad was mur­dered.

‘He was one of the most im­por­tant peo­ple in our lives, as a fa­ther but also as a hus­band, a brother and a son,’ she said.

The days af­ter his death were a blur as they dealt with the garda in­ves­ti­ga­tion and tried to fig­ure out why their dad was beaten to death in such a ‘sav­age’ way.

Slowly they re­alised that he would not re­turn. She said: ‘His white van would no longer be parked out­side the house. The fa­mil­iar sound of his voice, jok­ing about one thing or an­other was gone.

‘He will not be there for our mile­stones,’ she said, adding: ‘Our dad will not be there to walk us up the aisle like he was sup­posed to.’

The fam­ily say they no longer feels safe in the town they grew up in. Their lo­cal credit union and den­tist are across the road from where their dad was beaten to death at the steps to Fingal Com­mu­nity Col­lege. They still have ques­tions and night­mares.

Shawna added: ‘Both his life and dig­nity were taken in an ab­so­lutely sav­age way that is un­bear­able to think about.’

Walsh’s life sen­tence is in­signif­i­cant com­pared to the ‘tragedy that ar­rived on our doorstep that day’, Shawna said.

Re­mem­ber­ing the last time she saw her fa­ther, Shawna said: ‘When we saw him pri­vately for the last time we were told to pre­pare our­selves. He was bruised and had cuts and stitches on his face. He did not look like him­self. This is the last mem­ory I have of my Dad and is some­thing I’ll never for­get.’

Jus­tice Eileen Cree­don sym­pa­thised with Mr Byrne’s fam­ily and com­mended Shawna for mak­ing the state­ment.

Sergeant Kil­lian Ley­don told the court that Walsh had mul­ti­ple pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions in­clud­ing for pub­lic or­der, bur­glary, crim­i­nal dam­age and mis­use of drugs.

Jus­tice Cree­don sen­tenced him to the manda­tory life im­pris­on­ment for Mr Byrne’s mur­der and seven years for steal­ing a bank card, Zippo lighter and keys from the man he had beaten to death. She said it would be dif­fi­cult to think of a more heinous cir­cum­stance in which a per­son could take an­other man’s prop­erty.

Walsh did not re­act as he was sen­tenced and led away by prison guards.

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