BY EOGHAN DALTON
THE murder trial of Kilcrohane man Timmy Hourihane heard he was beaten to death ‘for no other reason than for being gay.’
The 53-year-old died after an attack on October 13th 2019 at a tented village for the homeless at Mardyke Walk, Cork city.
Mr Hourihane, a father-of-one, was a trained chef and worked for some time for the Hilton Hotel group in the UK, but was homeless at the time of his death.
He was found with severe injuries, having lost multiple teeth and suffered brain swelling following severe blunt force head and facial trauma, assistant state pathologist Dr Margot Bolster told the Central Criminal Court.
She said her post-mortem at Cork University Hospital (CUH) revealed he had 17 different injuries to his face.
James Brady (28) of Shannon Lawn, Mayfield, Cork, has pleaded not guilty to his murder at the Central Criminal Court.
Another man, who cannot be named due to a reporting restriction, has also been charged with his murder and will be tried at a later date.
Mr Hourihane was referred to as ‘John Doe’ when initially brought to CUH as it was not then known who he was, the court heard. He was wearing a silver ring with the letters ‘DAD’ inscribed.
Kathleen O’Brien, who was living in the tented village at the time, told the murder trial that she threw herself over the deceased to protect him as he was allegedly beaten to death.
She said there had been a homophobic slur used against the victim and added that, ‘with my hand on my heart’, the men ‘killed that man for no other reason than the man was gay’.
She told the jury that the two men were ‘firing each other up, getting angrier and angrier’ when they came across Mr Hourihane who, she alleged, was struck first by Mr Brady.
‘I think he hit him in the face with his fist. Timmy fell over.’
She said the victim ‘didn’t know what was going on’ and didn’t try to defend himself.
She added: ‘James Brady opened his (Mr Hourihane’s) legs and said to (the unnamed man) to “go on, kick him, he’s only a faggot”.’
The men were ‘egging each other on’ as they ‘stamped’ on Mr Hourihane’s head and legs, Ms O’Brien said.
When she tried to protect Mr Hourihane’s head from their stamping, she said the men changed to stamping on his legs, and back to his head. When she tried to protect his legs, she alleged ‘the other one would go around to his head’ and continue the attack.
‘There was no stopping,’ she said. ‘I screamed and pleaded, everything, for them to stop.’
Ms O’Brien told the court she received a black eye and bruises due to this.
She told prosecuting barrister Siobhan Lankford BL that she believed the attack stopped because the men had ‘exhausted themselves’, with Mr Hourihane ‘beyond recognition’ at that point.
Ms O’Brien said she gave a statement later that night to gardaí saying that she knew nothing about the incident, but she told the court that she no longer stands over this account.
She said she ‘was scared’ for her life after ‘seeing what they did’ and said she stands by the evidence she gave.
She told Vincent Heneghan SC, defending, that she was sure that Mr Brady was not trying to pull the other man off Mr Hourihane.
He asked how did the incident start.
‘James Brady and (the other man) were riling each other up. James Brady was trying to say that Timmy flirted with him and tried to drop a hand on him. That got [the other man] riled up and then the two of them got into a rage. James Brady hit Timmy and Timmy fell down and then (the other man) went in.’
When Mr Heneghan put it to her that her recollection of events was faulty and that Mr Brady was not involved in the attack, the witness said: ‘I can tell you this, with my hand on my heart, on the holy bible, James Brady and [the other man] killed that man for no other reason than the man was gay.’
Dr Bolster told the court the cause of Mr Hourihane’s death was inhalation of blood with extensive bleeding in the lungs, due to severe blunt force head and facial trauma, with a traumatic cardiac arrest causing swelling and a lack of blood supply to the brain.
The 17 different injuries to his face included lacerations, some of which went through the skin to the bone, extensive bruising and swelling, bleeding to the whites of the eyes, and a fractured lower jawbone.
He also had bruising to his legs and arm, as well as to his lower back, between his ribs and above his breastbone.
His lungs were heavy with blood and fluid while there was blood in his nose and in his windpipe.
There was bruising on his head around the temple areas and at the back of his head.
He had lost five teeth, at least three of them recently, while four more were fractured.
A large volume of blood in his respiratory system would have compromised his gas and air exchange system, which led to the cardiac arrest.
Before carrying out the post-mortem, she was brought by gardaí to the area at Mardyke Walk where Mr Hourihane had been found.
She saw an ‘indentation’ on the ground which had a ‘smearing of blood’, along with blood spatters on a wall and several loose teeth.
A tent had been severely burned, and an adjacent tent had a burnt hole in it, while branches of a nearby tree were extensively damaged by fire.
The court heard from a number of other people who were living homeless in the tented village at the time of Timmy Hourihane’s violent death.
Martin Harrington recounted how he heard ‘screaming’ and came out to see a dispute at the camp.
When asked who he saw there, he gestured towards the accused and said: ‘The young lad, called Jamie – James. He’s here.’
He said he fled the scene as he was ‘getting worried because I didn’t want to get caught in a street fight between gangs.’
He said Mr Brady had told him to “fuck off and mind your own business”. ‘That’s exactly what I done,’ he said.
One man who came on the scene, Kieran Duggan, said the victim was prone when he was saw him and described a ‘recess into the ground’ where the victim’s head lay.
‘There was blood all over the ground, his head was in a pool of blood,’ he said.
The first upon the scene were a couple who were on their back from a birthday party in nearby Sunday’s Well.
Kieran Stanley and his wife Nicole Srock-Stanley told the court via video link from Germany that they had noticed the fire and pulled over in their car to investigate.
They could see a fire that was in danger of getting out of control.
Kieran Stanley said he could hear ‘gurgling’ when he entered the park and next saw the outline of Timmy Hourihane on the ground.
‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ he said.
Meanwhile, two witnesses who were volunteering on a soup run in Cork city said that Mr Brady was in ‘very bad condition’ and appeared to be in pain in the hours prior.
Liam O’Connor and Mary O’Neill said they had been told he had been assaulted earlier and was now so unsteady on his feet they had to help dress him.
They gave him a lift back to Mardyke Walk from the Patrick St soup kitchen.
Ms O’Neill described Mr Brady as ‘quiet, always polite’ in the eight months she knew him from the soup run.
The trial continues.