BY ALISON O’RIORDAN
A TEENAGE accused was holding a knife during an argument outside a house party in Cork city where 20-year-old college student Cameron Blair from Ballinascarthy was murdered, a witness has told the Central Criminal Court.
Under cross-examination, Dave Sheehan, who described himself as one of Cameron’s best friends, told the accused’s defence barrister that he had seen the knife ‘with my eyes’, when it was suggested to him that he had ‘added on another layer’ about the accused having a knife.
The jury has heard that the events of this case related to ‘a tragic situation’ where Cameron, a chemical engineering student at CIT, died at CUH last year after being stabbed in the neck while attending a student party. Another juvenile has already pleaded guilty to his murder.
Mr Sheehan (22) was giving evidence in the Central Criminal Court trial of the teenager, who is charged with the production of a knife in connection with the murder of Cameron at a house on Bandon Road in Cork city on January 16th 2020.
The now 16-year-old accused, who cannot be named because he is a minor, has pleaded not guilty to producing an article capable of inflicting serious injury in the course of a dispute, to wit a knife, in a manner likely to unlawfully intimidate another person.
Mr Sheehan told prosecuting counsel John Fitzgerald SC that he had known Cameron since they were both seven. He said that their other friend was having a party at a house on Bandon Road on the evening of Thursday January 16th last year, which was during Freshers’ Week.
They went to the party and at around 7.30pm, Mr Sheehan said there was a knock at the front door and himself and Cameron opened it.
‘It was a drunk man in his forties and he was trying to get into the house and we told him “you can’t come in”. We closed the door and sat back down but there was knocking again five minutes later, it was the same man and he seemed to think he could come in,’ he said.
Mr Sheehan said the drunk man managed to open the door ‘for the third or fourth time’ without them answering, and he was again told to leave. After another attempt to get into the premises, Mr Sheehan said an occupant of the house pushed the drunk man and gave him a bit of a slap in the face before he stumbled and fell on the ground.
The witness testified that three boys, who he had never met before, were standing on the footpath outside the house. ‘They were saying to us it was lousy what had happened to the man, they were telling us to cop on,’ he added.
Mr Sheehan said that he and Cameron then picked up the man and began talking to the boys. ‘Cameron said they were sound and to let them come into the party,’ he said. He said the three boys were drinking vodka in the sitting room and talking to himself and Cameron. He described the atmosphere as ‘normal and calm.’
At around 8.15pm, Mr Sheehan said he went to the local shop to buy more cans with the boy, who has already pleaded guilty to murdering Cameron. ‘I told him that he and his friends were going to have to leave as the people who owned the house had said that to me,’ he remarked.
When they arrived back at the house, Mr Sheehan said the atmosphere had changed and the three boys were trying to get back into the house and were arguing with his friends, who were standing in the doorway. ‘They were mostly asking to get back in and most of my friends were standing in the way so they couldn’t,’ he said.
Mr Sheehan said the three boys were each holding a knife and standing on the edge of the footpath facing the front door.
Mr Fitzgerald asked Mr Sheehan if he saw the 16-year-old accused with a knife and he replied: ‘Yes, it was small, the blade was no more than four inches, it was a small knife.’
The witness said a girl then came out of the house and told the three boys to leave. ‘One of them punched her,’ he said.
Mr Sheehan said he had not seen the boy, who has already pleaded guilty to his friend’s murder, do anything to Cameron as he was staring at the girl who was punched. He said that the 16-year-old accused boy was ‘staring in the doorway’ and ‘looked shocked’. ‘He stayed for a few seconds and then just ran in the same direction,’ he added.
Mr Sheehan said it was only then he saw Cameron in the doorway of the house. ‘He was holding his neck, he had been stabbed. I went into the house and took my phone out and called 911,’ he said.
Meanwhile, in court on Wednesday, Marcel Szulhan told prosecuting counsel that he knew Cameron from nights out in secondary school, and had met him at the party on Bandon Road.
The witness said that three younger boys, who looked under 18 years of age, had arrived at the party. He said the atmosphere was getting ‘heated’ when they arrived as they were saying ‘a lot of unnecessary things and people at the party had started arguing with them.
Mr Szulhan said individuals at the party had ‘chipped in €5 or €10’ to buy €50 worth of cannabis for an ‘after party’ at the house. He said he had asked the tallest of the three boys if he could ‘sort it for us’ and one of his friends had given him €50.
Mr Szulhan said that the three boys had left the house to get the cannabis and returned some time later with two separate bags of the drug. ‘Two or three more lads came back with them, they were the lads who sourced it,’ he said.
Mr Szulhan said that the three boys were asked to leave the party later on, as they were going into the city and the youngest of the three boys began looking for his phone charger.
The witness said that the three boys were standing outside in a semi-circle when Cameron was at the front door.
‘They were talking about the charger. One of the lads gave him his own charger but that didn’t calm anything down,’ he said.
The next thing, Mr Szulhan said, he heard someone scream: ‘They all have knives.’ When asked what he saw happen to Cameron, the witness explained that he saw ‘a knife being put up and went down’. ‘Cameron turned around whilst holding his neck and said he doesn’t want to be fighting and everything was going to be ok,’ said the witness.
The trial continues.