High Court hears Polish man’s murder was racially motivated

April 13, 2010

By Brónagh Murphy

Belfast High Court has heard how a Polish man was kicked in the head and had his throat stamped on during a suspected race-hate murder in Newry.

The details came to light during a challenge to grant bail to the teenager accused of killing Marek Muszynski at Upper Edward Street in the city in July last year.

Adrian Cunningham, 19, from Lisgullion Park, Newry, faces a charge of murdering Mr Muszynski.

Prosecutors said the victim was confronted by two men after leaving an off-licence and taken to an alleyway after they told him a suspicious car was following him.

It was alleged that he was knocked to the ground, beaten and robbed of some small change before his trousers were pulled down.

The court heard that after the fatal attack, Mr Cunningham then bought drink and a takeaway meal to eat at a flat where he changed his clothing.

On Wednesday a district judge granted bail to Cunningham but on Friday the prosecution mounted a High Court appeal, citing concerns that he may flee or be targeted for possible reprisals because emotions are still running high.

Crown counsel Gareth Purvis said: “Police would say this was an extremely violent, unprovoked and also, they believe, racially motivated attack.”

He told the court the victim had been a vulnerable man who depended on a local soup kitchen for food.

“Police are regarding this incident as a hate crime, purely because of the applicant’s admissions of racial taunts made at the scene,” Mr Purvis added.

Remarks allegedly shouted included: “Go back to your own country, you’re not wanted in Ireland.”

A defence lawyer claimed his client, represented the “most unlikely criminal” and outlined Mr Cunningham’s hopes for a career in hairdressing and how he had undertaken a foundation degree in sociology while on remand.

The accused’s father, a senior civil servant, gave evidence to stress how the family would monitor him if granted bail.

Upholding the original decision to release Mr Cunningham on bail, Lord Justice Girvan said that none of the prosecution’s objections to bail could be sustained.

However, he imposed further conditions, including requirements for any passports to be surrendered and for Mr Cunningham to live with his parents.

He was also banned from going within half a mile of a city centre bar where witnesses in the case were located.