Two truck drivers have been found not guilty of the murder of a father-of-two who died following a row at a filling station in Co Cork.
Polish nationals Tomasz Wasowicz (45) and Marcin Skrzpezyk (31) had denied the murder of Ludowit Pasztor from Hungary at the Amber Filling Station at Carrignagroghera, Fermoy on February 21st, 2017.
The jury at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork took just two hours and 17 minutes to find the two not guilty of either the murder or the manslaughter of Mr Pasztor.
Neither man gave evidence but their lawyers argued that their actions amounted to self-defence after they got into a fight with Mr Pasztor and his friend Mariusz Osail (40) on the night in question.
Mr Pasztor and Mr Osail got into a row with the two accused at the filling station and went back to Mr Osail’s house where they armed themselves with two iron bars.
They returned to the filling station where they confronted the truck drivers but the accused managed to disarm them and struck them a number of times with the iron bars with Mr Pasztor suffering a fatal blow.
Mr Osail (40) told the court that he and Mr Pasztor only wanted to scare the truck drivers when they went back to confront them at the filling station.
He confirmed they had an earlier confrontation with the accused men when they were leaving the filing station after buying eight cans of Carlsberg lager that night, explaining there had been “some unpleasant chat” between them.
Mr Osail said he and Mr Pasztor had been drinking earlier in the day and that when they returned to his house, they had another drink. Mr Pasztor then asked him for some bars and pointed him to some trampoline poles behind a shed.
“Ludo was insisting, he was saying it constantly and I said ‘Leave it, leave it – let’s stay at home and drink more beers’. I don’t know why we didn’t stay at home. I don’t know, I was just drunk. I am blaming myself, I live with it all the time.”
Mr Osail rejected a suggestion that they had returned to the filling station to show the two truck drivers who were “the real Polish, who are the tough guys”.
Mr Osail said he did not hit anyone with the iron bar and he did not see Mr Pasztor hit anyone with the bar and he could not explain how Mr Wasowicz sustained a fractured wrist.
Liam Byrnes, a truck driver, told the court he was sitting in the passenger seat of cab where he was watching some TV and looking at his phone when he heard some shouting and roaring.
“I looked up to see what was happening,” he said. “I just saw two men on the ground and two men standing over them with what looked like bars, hitting them – one fellow was a taller fellow and the other was a small, round, butty fellow.”
He said it was dark in the parking area at the back of the filling station and he could not see the faces of the two men with the bars but the smaller man was wearing shorts and he saw them get into two Macroom Haulage trucks.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster said Mr Pasztor suffered a depressed complex fracture at the base of skull where she also found three lacerations which were consistent with a single blow from an iron bar.
Both accused broke down in tears when the jury returned not guilty verdicts and Ms Justice Carmel Stewart told them that they were free to go.