Saturday evening was wrapping its warm embrace around some people in Drimnagh on 23 February 2008. It was soon after 6pm, when the weekend is pregnant with the expectation of a relaxing evening and free day to follow.
Tracey Dillon got into her car outside her home at Benbulben Road, en route to a friend's house. She pulled up outside O'Brien's shop on the road to pick up a few items. A few doors down from O'Brien's, butcher Darren Lee was cleaning up the shop at the end of the week's work. The shutters were down. He was joined by his landlord, Rory O'Connor, who was enjoying a cup of tea.
Next door, the Drimnagh Takeaway was doing a brisk Saturday-evening trade. A few cars had pulled up outside, including a Mitsubishi Colt, from which three young men alighted to get their fill of chips. Outside the premises, a 15-year-old male dressed in a grey tracksuit was bumming cigarettes. Some who were there that evening thought he looked as if he had some drink taken.
Among the customers inside the premises were two teenage girls. It is unclear whether they were under the influence, but people noticed that they were carrying bottles, one of vodka, the other believed to be wine.
Just up the road, at No 48, a young Polish man by the name of Pawel Kalite was hungry. He took off for the chipper. He was 28 years old and had been living in Ireland for just over a year. He worked as a mechanic and panel-beater for a company in the nearby Robin Hood Industrial Estate. A stocky, bald man, he lived in a house at Benbulben Road with his friend, 29-year-old Marios Szwajkos, and two women. Szwajkos also worked as a mechanic for the same outfit that employed Kalite.
Some witnesses reckoned that Kalite had drink on board when he arrived at the chipper that evening. Either way, his excursion for food began in the most innocuous circumstances, a young man just popping out for a few minutes. It would end with the violent death of both him and his housemate.
Kalite got his chips. He re-emerged from the chipper at 6.25pm. The 15-year-old approached him. They collided with each other. CCTV footage suggests that the Polish man bumped off the teenager. The footage then shows the Pole moving on, but suddenly turning back towards the teenager.
Observing the contact between the pair were the three men sitting in the Mitsubishi Colt. One of them, Ciaran Poole, saw the Pole put down his chips and take off his hat and approach the teenager, who ran.
"The small man chased the other fella," Poole remembers. "Then a jeep pulled up outside the butchers. A man got out and looked like he tried to break up the scuffle." The man has been identified as the 15-year-old's uncle. He is also the father of 19-year-old David Curran, who is on trial for the murder of the two Polish men.
By then the two teenage girls had emerged from the chipper.
Tracey Dillon, who had stopped to just pop into another shop on the street, saw what then unfolded.
"The lad in the grey tracksuit, the two young girls and this older chap were basically killing the bald chap on the ground. They were kicking him."
The fight had occurred directly outside the butcher's, with some of the participants banging up against the shutters. Inside, the butcher, Darren Lee, presumed it was just kids acting the maggot against his shutters. He went outside, followed by his landlord O'Connor, but what they saw was not the usual tomfoolery.
"The bald fella was on the ground. There was a fella called Mick walking away," he said. "The bald fella picked himself up and staggered towards the chipper." He noticed the girls screaming abuse at the bald fella.
Tracey Dillon was standing nearby. The bald man picked up his chips and began walking home. He passed the two teenage girls. "One of them gave him a clatter across the face. Across the neck. He done nothing," she said. "He just crossed the road."
What had unfolded appeared little more than a minor scuffle. Those who were involved had gone their separate ways, albeit in varying emotional states, according to the witnesses. But some who had seen what had occurred sensed that a dark mood had descended on the street.
Tracey Dillon got into her car and rang the gardaí. The butcher went back inside his shop and also phoned the cops. O'Connor followed him back in and grabbed his car keys. He was going to go after the bald man and offer him a lift home.
"I sensed there was going to be trouble," he said.
Within a few minutes, his premonition materialised. A group of teenagers arrived in front of the shops. One of them was carrying what witnesses have said was a screwdriver. Lee the butcher recognised him as a fella who was known by his nickname, Schillaci.
This man approached the Mitsubishi Colt and kicked the car. "Was it youse who did it?" he shouted. Somebody else said, "It's not them."
Lee went back inside his shop and rang the cops again. Meanwhile, Tracey Dillon was driving around the block. So was Rory O'Connor, looking for the bald man, whom he believed might need protection.
The man they called Schillaci sat in court last week listening to a succession of witnesses recall the night that two Polish men were fatally injured by a screwdriver being driven into their brains. He is David Curran, who is accused of murdering Kalite and Szwajkos. He denies the murder charge. His co-accused is 21-year-old Seán Keogh, who has pleaded not guilty to the double murder.
The trial began on Tuesday, but had to be aborted after some information came to light and the jury was discharged. A new jury of eight women and four men was sworn in. Proceedings got under way on Wednesday.
It is customary at a high-profile murder trial these days for the relatives of the victim to be present in force. Recent developments in the courts service and the law provides for victim-support workers to be present to liaise with victims' families. The prosecution lawyers and the gardaí are also accommodating of bereaved relatives. There has been a general elevation to proper status of bereaved relatives who are present to hear the legal conclusion of their loved ones' violent deaths.
In this case, the families of the victims are not in court. Instead, the rows of seats behind the lawyers are filled with people from Drimnagh and family and friends of the accused.
The reconstruction of the fatal night involves evidence from dozens of witnesses who were in and around the shops at Benbulben Road when the fight broke out.
Rory O'Connor drove around looking for the bald man, but he was nowhere to be seen. In fact, the bald man, Kalite, lived just up the road and had gone straight home. He drove back to the butcher's shop and parked his car. His sense that trouble was brewing prompted him to pull out onto the road again. He was afraid that his car, which was new, might be damaged if he left it in front of the shops. He drove up the road and parked it far from what was developing into a madding crowd.
Within minutes, the group who had been seen at the shops, including the man who kicked the car, arrived outside the Pole's abode. David Curran admits he was among the crowd. The court heard that he has claimed he received a phone call to the effect that his father had been stabbed. He accepts that he was the person who caused the fatal injury to both deceased, but he is claiming a defence of provocation. Witnesses saw him with a screwdriver in his hand.
Tracey Dillon drove around the block, fearful about what might be unfolding. She arrived back at Benbulben Road a few minutes later. She drove up past the shops. She thought she saw a body on the footpath outside number 48, just up from the shops.
"I thought they were after getting him," she told the court. "I drove up and pulled into the garden of number 54."
She walked back. One man was lying on the footpath. The other was lying face down just inside the garden of number 48. "His face was smashed into the step," she said. "I thought they were dead."
The court heard that both men were still clinically alive. Szwajkos died two days later in St James' Hospital, Kalite two days later again.
O'Kelly told the court that the prosecution case is that a group, including the two accused, gathered outside the Poles' house. Kalite wanted to go out to them and his housemates tried to get him to stay inside. He went out and his friend went out to assist him. Both were attacked and knocked to the ground. Both died from nearly identical stab wounds to their brains.
The case continues tomorrow and is expected to last three weeks.