A man who was jailed for the homophobic murder of a gay man in Northern Ireland has been denied the chance to appeal the judgment.
The case concerns Shaun Fitzpatrick, a 32-year old openly gay supermarket boss, who was attacked on his way home from a bar in Dungannon, County Tyrole, in March 2008. Ramunas Balseris, 28, and Andrius Dunauskas, 25, who are both Lithuanian, were convicted of Mr Fitzpatrick’s murder in March 2010. The trial judge also recommended that the men be deported after serving at least 20 years in prison.
The Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Balseris’s challenge upon finding compelling evidence that he was involved in beating the victim to death. Mr Fitzpatrick was kicked and stamped on during two separate assaults, suffering as a result 52 different injuries all over his body.
The judge said that even if Mr Dunauskas inflicted most of the injuries, allegations that Mr Balseris stood smoking during the second attack was “chilling evidence of his callous disregard for their victim.”
Lawyers for the defendant have argued however that his conviction was “unsafe” and should be set aside. They also suggested that evidence of bad character — that Mr Balseris shouted angrily at Mr Fitzpatrick, “I’m not gay” at a bar in May 2007 — was wrongly presented.
Lord Justice Coghlin however refuted these arguments, saying that the incident provided a very relevant background to the case, with which the jury had been able to conclude that he had taken a much more active part in the crime than he had been prepared to admit.
A second hearing to challenge the length of the sentence will occur in June.
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