Dublin defendant banned from his own murder trial after punching barrister

Jen Offord
High Court Ireland

A murder suspect on trial at a Dublin court caused shockwaves this week after he punched the prosecuting barrister in the face. Vesel Jahiri stands accused of the murder of 25-year-old Anna Finnegan in Dublin in 2012.

According to reports Kosovan-born Jahiri, 35, lost his temper after Mr Justice Paul Coffey told the jury the defendant could not call any further witnesses. The judge added that neither Jahiri nor the prosecuting counsel, Patrick Marrinan SC, would make a closing speech. Jahiri had dismissed his own legal team earlier in the trial.

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Taking umbrage with the judge's instructions, reports said Jahiri then shouted: "The judge is refusing to call witnesses. This trial is not going ahead. You broke the law. This trial is going nowhere. I'm stopping it now."

Jahiri continued to say he needed a phone to call potential witnesses, saying: "I'm in Guantanamo jail," adding, "My teeth are sick and everything."

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When Marriner stood to address the judge, Jahiri punched him in the face, bloodying his nose.

He was apprehended by five prison officers before the court adjourned for 20 minutes.

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When proceedings resumed, Jahiri was no longer present and Justice Coffey told the jury that "a very unusual situation" had arisen.

He said: "I have had to very reluctantly exclude him from this trial."

Having dismissed his legal team earlier in the trial in order to represent himself, Justice Coffey said Jahiri had been advised that he had a right to be present at his trial but it was not "an absolute right", and the trial would continue before the jury in Jahiri's absence.

Coffey added: "Unfortunately the point of no return has arrived this morning."

Jahiri is accused of murdering his former partner of 10 years, Finnegan, who was also the mother of his two children. Jahiri has pleaded not guilty to this and a separate charge of assault of the victim's brother Karl Finnegan on 21 September 2012.

The prosecution alleges that Jahiri fatally stabbed Finnegan after breaking down her front door.

According to domestic violence charity Refuge, one in three women globally will suffer violence at the hands of a male partner. EU statistics also suggest a quarter of all violent crimes reported involve a man assaulting his wife or partner.

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