Murder accused Joseph Joyce 'fought like gladiator and raised arms in victory in fight,' court told

Joseph Joyce.
Joseph Joyce at a previous court appearance.

A court's been told that a man accused of murdering his neighbour with a scythe had been fighting like a gladiator and had raised his arms in a victory salute. Joseph Joyce, who's 31 and with an address at Clon Elagh in Londonderry, denies murdering John Paul McDonagh in April 2020.

This trial has been examining how a dispute sparked by loud music at a barbecue led to the neighbouring families engaging in a brutal street fight. The McDonagh and Joyce families lived back-to-back in the Coolcullen Meadows area of Enniskillen. In April 2020, two McDonagh brothers - John Paul and Gerard - together with a juvenile who can't be identified went to the Joyce's street armed with a spade, a hoe, and a knife. Joe Joyce had a scythe and a bottle of ammonia liquid, the court was told. The jury was told a "full-scale battle" ensued. John Paul McDonagh, who was 18, was struck in the leg by the scythe.

John McDonagh

An artery was severed and he bled to death. His brother Gerard, who's 26 and with an address in Strabane, was also wounded in the leg but survived. Joe Joyce has been accused of murder, and a number of other charges including wounding and possession of offensive weapons. The court was told he was exercising his right not to give evidence. The prosecution then began its closing speech with Barra McGrory QC telling the jury that Joe Joyce and the McDonaghs had willingly engaged in a terrifying and unlawful street fight. Joe Joyce had a scythe and his only intention was to use it to cause serious harm, the court was told. Mr McGrory told the jury: "Mr Joyce fought like a gladiator. He was swinging his scythe in the direction of the McDonaghs. "He was running at the McDonaghs and at the point where he thought he had the upper hand he raised his hands in victory." The trial continues on Friday when Desmond Fahy QC is due to make the closing speech for the defence.

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