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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Adam Everett

Everything murder trial has heard so far after man died in 'ferocious' gang attack

Two men and a boy went on trial this week accused of murdering Christopher Molloy.

The 55-year-old died a week after being attacked near to Bootle Strand in the early hours of July 12 last year. Jay Byrne, aged 26 and of Leyland Road in Southport, 25-year-old Joseph Byrne, of Linacre Road in Litherland, and a 15-year-old youth who cannot be named for legal reasons are accused of his murder.

Here, we have summarised everything that the jury was told during the first few days of evidence.

READ MORE: Family 'destroyed' after 'lovely' dad killed by drunk BMW driver

Before the incident

Mr Molloy got off a bus at around 11.30pm on July 11, 2022 and visited the Wild Rose, a Wetherspoons pub on Stanley Road. The licensed doorman drank there for around an hour before leaving at roughly 12.30am on July 12, around which time the two Byrne brothers were walking the elder sibling's dog Zena in the area.

"Touching" accusation

An initial altercation between the parties erupted near to Burger King at around 12.45am after Mr Molloy was accused of "touching" the teenage defendant's girlfriend. Jay Byrne is said to have either punched or pushed the stranger, who then fled to the McDonald's opposite and sought assistance from staff "because he was concerned as to what was happening, trying to get help".

A 16-year-old girl who had been drinking with the boy later told police under interview: "I remember Jay and Joe saying to (the youth), 'are you not going to do anything? That's your girlfriend'.

"I think he was saying sorry. They were saying 'don't be sorry lad, go and do something'.

"They were saying, 'that's supposed to be your bird'. Joe has come back over and everyone's followed - I think (the youth) has only done it to prove himself."

"Unprovoked and ferocious attack"

Mr Molloy remained in the McDonald's doorway for several minutes before walking away, at which point he was chased by Joseph Byrne and the then 14-year-old. A second confrontation near to the junction with Strand Road was captured on CCTV footage, which was played to the court.

It showed the younger Byrne "landing an extremely forceful punch" with his right hand, knocking Mr Molloy to the floor. He fell backwards and "cracked his head on the pavement", rendering him unconscious.

The juvenile was then seen repeatedly slapping him in the face as he lay helpless on the floor. Both attackers walked away in the direction of the Natwest bank, being caught on camera fist bumping as they did so.

They returned shortly afterwards alongside Jay Byrne, who kicked a still unconscious Mr Molloy to the head. The youth then delivered a second kick to the head.

Gordon Cole KC, prosecuting, said of this final blow: "That was a particularly ferocious kick. A kick like kicking a football hard, to an unconscious man."

Christopher Molloy's death

In the aftermath, a patrolling police car was flagged down by a taxi driver who reported that there was a man lying unconscious in the road. Another member of the public had alerted the attentions of a passing ambulance, and it became "immediately obvious that Mr Molloy was extremely unwell".

He had a host of cuts, bruising and swelling to his face and head and began vomiting once placed in the back of the ambulance. After being rushed to the Walton Centre, he underwent emergency surgery shortly before 5am.

But Mr Molloy had suffered internal bleeding and fractures, and his life support was ultimately withdrawn. He died on July 19, 2022.

All three defendants have admitted manslaughter, but deny murder. The trial continues.

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