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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Adam Everett

Murder accused turns to teen and shouts 'he done it and he knows he did it' in court

A killer turned to his teenage co-defendant and shouted "he done it and he knows he did it" as he gave evidence to a murder trial this afternoon.

Joseph Byrne is currently standing trial accused of murdering Christopher Molloy alongside his older brother Jay Byrne and a 14-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons. He punched the 55-year-old victim to the ground near to Bootle Strand in the early hours of July 12 last year, causing him to fall backwards and hit his head.

The youth then repeatedly slapped the unconscious security guard before he and Joseph Byrne walked away from the scene and fist bumped. But the boy and Jay Byrne then returned to stricken Mr Molloy and kicked him in the head.

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He died in hospital a week later as a result of his injuries. The younger of the two siblings was the first of the defendants to be called to give evidence at Liverpool Crown Court today, Wednesday.

On the witness box, Joseph Byrne said 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 25-year-old, of Linacre Road in Litherland, appeared to become angry with the youngster while under cross-examination and later refused to answer any more questions, saying: "I wont calm down lad, I'm done here.

"I'm sorry the man's died, I really am. But I didn't mean for that to happen."

Byrne first answered his own barrister John Jones KC, telling him that he and his brother had been drinking at their mum's house from around 1pm on July 11 2022 onwards. At around midnight, they left to take 26-year-old Jay's dog Zena for a walk - admitting that by this point "I was pretty drunk like".

He said he had not met either Mr Molloy or the boy he has been sharing the dock with prior to the night in question. However, Byrne said he and his brother knew the mum of a 16-year-old girl that the latter had been in the company of.

While approaching the junction of Stanley Road and Strand Road, they "could hear loads of shouting, a commotion going on". Their acquaintance then approached and spoke to them, before the 14-year-old allegedly reported "this fella keeps touching my bird".

Byrne told the jury: "I wasn't happy about it, because they're kids. We argued with the fella, we were telling him to go away and that it wasn't on."

He said the boy had accused Mr Molloy of "grabbing her a*** and trying to pull her by her jacket", describing the youth as being "a little bit angry".

Byrne added: "I felt angry that he'd been touching the girl and I believed he did. Why else would a young lad come up and say that to two random fellas?"

He then attacked Mr Molloy "just to teach him a lesson, just to give him a little slap", saying: "I didn't mean for any of this to happen, the way it's gone. Just to teach him a lesson that you can't touch kids

"I didn't mean to cause him serious harm. I was just giving him a little slap and that and that was meant to be it - I thought he'd get up.

"I seen he went down after I hit him, so I just left him. I just thought he'd stumbled and fell over.

"I didn't know he was unconscious or nothing. I've come back just to call him a little nonce and I've realised he's unconscious then."

Asked why he and the boy had fist bumped afterwards, Byrne said: "I'm not proud of it, but because I'd hit him. Then I was like 'let's go, all of us'."

He claimed to have warned the youth not to continue the attack as he and Jay Byrne returned to the injured Mr Molloy, telling jurors: "The fella was knocked out and I didn't want anyone else to touch him. He can't defend himself."

Joseph Byrne said he did not see either of his co-defendants kicking the man and that he only learned that this had happened following his arrest on suspicion of murder. When asked if he "accepted causing Mr Molloy's death", he replied: "No, I just accept that I've done something - maybe if I didn't hit him, it wouldn't have happened."

Mr Jones asked: "As a consequence, he's now dead. How do you feel about that?"

Byrne responded: "To be honest, like s***. I feel bad."

When asked if he "regretted what he had done", he said: "Every day. I wish I'd never gone out."

Tensions began to arise as Peter Finnegan KC quizzed Byrne on behalf of the 14-year-old. The barrister suggested it had not been his client who had informed him of the allegations against Mr Byrne, at which point he turned to the dock and said: "He did say that and you know you did.

"It come from his mouth. I'm not wrong, he did say it."

Byrne denied having seen his brother punch or push Mr Molloy, saying: "I thought I was the only one that hit him. We were all shouting at him.

"I didn't see anything like that. I am being truthful."

Byrne denied "egging" the boy on to attack Mr Molloy, stating: "I did tell him not to hit him. But then what does he go and do?"

He then again turned to the dock and said: "You know it's right lad. Full well.

"There was no need for the kid to go back over, for both of them. There wasn't."

After a short break, Byrne said to Mr Finnegan: "You're making out that I'm lying when I'm not. The facts are there, and you're making up your own.

"No one actually told that kid to do anything. He took it upon himself.

"You're standing there trying to manipulate me. You need to face facts, he done it and he knows he did."

Mr Finnegan finished his cross-examination by asking "is there anything else you want to say?". Byrne replied: "No, not to you anyway."

Gordon Cole KC, prosecuting, then immediately began his questioning by asking "so you blame all of this on (the boy) do you?". The defendant responded: "I chose to hit him yeah, but I weren't there when they done their bit."

Mr Cole further stated "a man was killed", to which Byrne said: "Not intentionally though that night. He weren't killed there and then on the spot.

"You're making out he got killed there and then. He died from that heavy kick (the boy) has give him, course it is.

"He went down and he was unconscious. But maybe he would have got up if there never was the kicks."

Mr Cole then asked if Byrne had spat at Mr Molloy when CCTV showed him on CCTV leaning over the prone man. He replied: "No, there was no proof. You need to tell the jury that, I didn't spit at him."

When questioned if it had "ever crossed his mind to get him help", Byrne said: "Not really. I thought he'd get up and be alright and just walk off."

Asked what he had been drinking on the afternoon leading up to Mr Molloy's death, he said "a bit of everything" - including whisky, Carling, Budweiser and Corona. Byrne added: "We had some lemo too, I'm gonna be honest with you.

"We were taking drugs. I'm standing here being honest.

"I was pretty drunk like. Not enough to forgot what happened, if that's what you're gonna suggest.

"I told you what's happened and I'm not gonna change my story. I've told you the truth."

Byrne said Mr Molloy had denied touching the girl during the altercation. Mr Cole asked what the dispute "had to do with him", to which he replied: "What's it got to do with this fella if he doesn't know them from Adam?

"He's touching a couple of kids. Do you think that's normal, because where I come from that's not normal.

"Why would the kid say it randomly? Why would that kid come to two random lads?

"You're not a***d are you? You don't give a f***.

"You're trying to make out it's all for nothing. No one meant it to happen like this."

Byrne then refused to continue, saying: "I'm done here. I've got nothing left to say, you're just trying to make me slip up.

"I won't calm down lad. I'm done here.

"I'm sorry the man's died, I really am. But I didn't mean for that to happen.

"I'm done here. I'm done.

"I just want to go down. I'm done for the day, and I won't answer any more questions."

Both Byrne brothers and the 14-year-old have admitted manslaughter, but deny murder. The trial continues with Joseph Byrne's cross-examination due to continue tomorrow, Thursday.

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