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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Adam Everett

Killer admits assaulting woman days before he beat security guard to death

A killer has admitted assaulting a woman only days before he, his brother and a 14-year-old boy beat a security guard to death.

Joseph Byrne and his older sibling Jay previously pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Christopher Molloy, although both were cleared of murder. However, a youth who cannot be named for legal reasons was convicted of murdering the 55-year-old by a jury after kicking him in the head as he lay unconscious near to Bootle Strand.

Appearing before Liverpool Crown Court yesterday, Monday, via video link to HMP Altcourse, Joseph Byrne pleaded guilty to further charges in relation two separate incidents. The 25-year-old, of Linacre Road in Litherland admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm against John McLoughlin on April 9 last year.

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He also pleaded guilty to assaulting Kellsey Freeman occasioning actual bodily harm. This count relates to an incident on Waine Street in St Helens on July 10 2022.

The fatal attack on Mr Molloy came only two days later in the early hours of July 12. Jurors heard during a trial last month that an initial altercation between the parties erupted near to Burger King in Bootle at around 12.45am on July 12 last year after the deceased was accused of "touching" the teenage defendant's girlfriend.

Jay Byrne, of Leyland Road in Southport, was 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". The victim remained in the doorway of the fast food branch 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 of Stanley Road and 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, a total of eight times, 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. The now 15-year-old boy returned shortly afterwards alongside 26-year-old Jay Byrne, who kicked a still unconscious Mr Molloy to the head.

The youth then delivered a second kick to the head, described as a "particularly ferocious kick, like kicking a football hard". 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, a week after the assault.

Joseph Byrne said on the stand that he had given Mr Molloy "a little slap to teach him a lesson" after he was told that he had been "grabbing the a***" of the teen's girlfriend. But the killer appeared to become angry with the youngster while under cross-examination - at one point turning to him and saying "he done it and he knows he did" - before refusing to answer any further questions from the prosecution.

Jay Byrne did not give evidence to the trial, but the boy said from the witness box that he had been imitating a scene from 1995 comedy film Friday - namely when the character played by Chris Tucker shouts "you got knocked the f*** out". He also alleged that Joseph Byrne had asked "do you want to see a knockout punch?" before rendering Mr Molloy unconscious.

All three are due to be sentenced back at the same court on March 16 in connection with all matters.

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