Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Thursday, 11 March 2010

Pair guilty of homophobic murder

Mr Fitzpatrick was on his way home from a local bar when he was attacked
Mr Fitzpatrick was on his way home from a local bar when he was attacked

Two men have been found guilty of murdering a County Tyrone supermarket manager almost two years ago.

Shaun Fitzpatrick, 32, was found dead in an alleyway off the Donaghmore Road in Dungannon early on 23 March 2008.

Andrius Dunauskas, 23, of Lisnahull Road, and Raminas Balseris, 26, of Altmore Drive, were found guilty at Dungannon Crown Court.

The pair, originally from Lithuania, killed him because he was gay. He was attacked on his way home from a bar.

Mr Fitzpatrick was so badly beaten that police initially thought he may have been shot.

Mr Justice Hart said it must have been "an unpleasant experience" for the jury "having to listen to the terrible injuries inflicted on Mr Fitzpatrick by these two men for no other reason than contempt for his sexuality".

We pray that these evil men never walk the streets of Northern Ireland again
Stacy McNally
Victim's sister

He said murder carried a mandatory life sentence, and next month he would determine the minimum term they must serve.

During the trial, both men admitted being present during the attack but blamed each other.

Dunauskas admitted punching Mr Fitzpatrick once in the face, a blow which forced him to the ground.

He claimed he agreed to help Balseris out of drunken aggression.

However, Balseris claimed that it was Dunauskas who began the assault with a martial arts kick to the head.

Balseris alleged Dunauskas continued to kick and stamp on the defenceless victim.

He further claimed Dunauskas told him Mr Fitzpatrick had to die because if he were left alive he would be able to identify him as his attacker.

This case shows that no-one in the community is above the law, regardless of their background or ethnicity
David McConville
Detective superintendent

After the guilty verdicts, Mr Fitzpatrick's sister, Stacy McNally, read a statement on behalf of the family.

She said that they "pray that these evil men never walk the streets of Northern Ireland again, because our Shaun won't".

Mr Fitzpatrick was described as was "a loving son, a great brother, wonderful uncle, fun-loving, hard-working, soft-hearted, kind and inoffensive".

She said that when he died, "part of us died with him".

Detective Superintendent David McConville said Mr Fitzpatrick's family had "shown remarkable dignity throughout this harrowing ordeal".

He said police were "greatly encouraged" by the help offered by the local community.

"The two men that carried out this shockingly violent attack are originally from Lithuania, however they do not represent the law-abiding members of the Lithuanian community living in Dungannon, who can expect the same level of support from the police service as everyone else in Northern Ireland," he said.

"This case shows that no-one in the community is above the law, regardless of their background or ethnicity."



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