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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Adam Everett

Killer ranted 'you know it's not murder' at police

A killer ranted at police and called a barrister a "c***" during courtroom outbursts.

Joseph Byrne was this week found not guilty of murdering Christopher Molloy during an early hours gang attack near to Bootle Strand, although he had earlier admitted manslaughter. His brother Jay Byrne pleaded guilty to the same charge, while a 15-year-old boy - who cannot be named for legal reasons - was convicted of murder following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

The ECHO can now reveal that Joseph Byrne shouted "you know it's not murder" to police officers in court and hurled abuse at the prosecutor on one occasion. His comments could not be reported until now as they were not made in the presence of the jury.

READ MORE: Boy, 15, shouts 'you fat ugly p****' at judge as he's found guilty of murder

One such tirade came after the defendant gave evidence on the stand. Byrne refused to continue answering questions under cross-examination and said: "I'm done, hold me for contempt of court. I don't give a f***, it's wrong what they're saying."

As he was being led from the witness box, Byrne then turned to Merseyside Police detectives sat in the public gallery and yelled: "You know it's not murder. You know full well it's not murder, the lot of you."

Two days later, after his junior co-defendant had finished his evidence, he said as he watched on from the dock: "Don't get down about it. It was an accident."

Then, referring to prosecuting barrister Gordon Cole KC, Byrne added: "Don't let that Mr Cole grind you down. He's a c*** anyway."

Joseph Byrne admitted the manslaughter of Christopher Molloy (Merseyside Police)

Jurors previously heard an initial altercation between the parties erupted near to Burger King at around 12.45am on July 12 last year after Mr Molloy 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 25-year-old Joseph Byrne - of Linacre Road in Litherland - 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 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".

Jay Byrne admitted the manslaughter of Christopher Molloy (Merseyside Police)

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, 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.

Of the moment he kicked him on the floor, the teen said: "I didn't think. I was just copying what Jay did."

After being found guilty of murder on Friday, he shouted "you fat, ugly p****" to Judge Neil Flewitt KC before storming out of the dock. Jay Byrne appeared concerned for the teen, putting his head in his hands when the verdict was delivered and telling him "chill bro".

Joseph Byrne was seen smiling as he was led to the cells. All three will return to the same court to be sentenced in March.

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