Arnis Labunskis denies murdering 39-year-old Dainius Burba in April 2015
A father-of-two charged with murdering his flatmate at their home in Limerick has said he does not know why he gave gardaí a different account of the death to the one he gave the jury.
The accused told gardaí that he had come home to find his flatmate with serious injuries, but has since told the jury that he inflicted them.
Arnis Labunskis, aged 56, with an address at Wolfe Tone Street denies murdering 39-year-old Dainius Burba in their house there on April 21 or April 22, 2015.
The Latvian national entered the witness box on Friday and became emotional, as he described hearing Mr Burba scream when he hit him with the leg of a table. He said he had taken it from the deceased, who had begun swinging it at him, after calling him into his darkened room in the middle of the night.
This Monday morning, his barrister, Michael Bowman SC, asked him about giving arresting gardaí a different account to the one he gave in court.
“The answers. I don’t know why I did that, why I thought I have to do it,” he replied. “Only when I spent a week in prison, I realised: Why I can’t tell? Why did i do it? Everything could be different,” he continued. “Yes I acknowledge that, but why I can’t answer.”
Being cross-examined by Anthony Sammon SC, prosecuting, the defendant said he did not know that his t-shirt, stained with Mr Burba’s blood, was in a plastic bag that he threw into wheelie bin that morning.
He said that it might have landed in that bag when he pulled it off. He said he then put bottles into the bag and threw them away.
He said that Mr Burba was still alive and snoring when he left the house to walk to his daughter’s house that morning.
“You had bashed his head in, fractured his skull, broken his jaw, damaged his brain,” said Mr Sammon. “Are you seriously suggesting that you thought that Mr Burba was still alive when you returned?”
He said he was sure he would be alive.
“I thought I just make him dizzy,” he said.
“I suggest you would hear the sound of a skull being fragmented by a table leg,” said Mr Sammon.
“I didn’t hear that,” he replied.
Mr Sammon put it to him that he had known that his flatmate wouldn’t get better.
“You knew you had killed him by battering his head in. You knew you had killed him because you had intended to kill him,” he suggested.
“I didn’t want to kill him. He wanted to kill me,” he responded.
“The only thing that saved my life was the bed,” he said, referring to having jumped up onto the bed to get away from Mr Burba.
“If there was no bed, maybe he would be sitting here,” he said, becoming emotional. “We would swap places.”
The trial continues before Ms Justice Deirdre McCarthy and a jury of three women and nine men.