Jury told Summerhill man drowned in own blood after drunken fight, accused murderer pleads not guilty

SCENE: Tasmania Police at Kerry Court where Peter Fitzgerald died in December 2016.
SCENE: Tasmania Police at Kerry Court where Peter Fitzgerald died in December 2016.

A Summerhill man drowned in a pool of his own blood after his friend allegedly stomped and kicked him in the head during a drunken argument, a court has been told.

Anthony Colin Finnegan, of Prospect, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 56-year-old Peter John Fitzgerald.

A Launceston Supreme Court jury heard on Monday how the men had been drinking together hours before Mr Fitzgerald died at his Kerry Court unit in December 2016.

The victim started “having a go” at the accused, who the Crown said reacted by “viciously” attacking him.

The alleged assault left Mr Fitzgerald unconscious and bleeding on the laundry floor, with severe head and brain injuries, and fractures to his face, the court heard.

The accused then allegedly grabbed a plate of food the victim had cooked, placed it beside his head and left the unit, along with another man who had been drinking with the pair.

Later that night, the jury heard the accused called another friend, telling him he had “f --- ed Fitzy up”.

That other friend, as well as the man who had been drinking with Mr Fitzgerald and Mr Finnegan, went back to the Kerry Court unit, and called triple zero.

Ambulance officers found “no signs of life”.

Police later found Mr Finnegan at another address, with a beer in his hand, the jury was told.

The Crown alleged he had called his mother and left a voicemail saying “I love you Mum, the cops are here”.

Officers noticed blood stains on his jeans and sneakers and he was arrested and later charged with Mr Fitzgerald’s murder.

Crown Prosecutor Jackie Hartnett said it was not the state’s case that Mr Finnegan intended to murder his friend.

She described the fight as “unexpected and significant violence”.

“The absence of that intention does not mean he is not guilty of the crime of murder,” she said.

“He must have known there was a real chance of killing him.

“If he had stopped and thought about it … he ought to have known inflicting such violence to those areas of the body, that there was a real chance of causing his death, even though he never intended to do so.”

Defence lawyer Greg Richardson said it would not be argued that the men had been drinking together, that there had been a fight or that Mr Fitzgerald died that night.

Rather, it would be argued who and what contributed to his death.​

​The trial before Justice Michael Brett is expected to run for at least two weeks, with more than 30 Crown witnesses to be called. 

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