Fisherman ‘yelled for help’ as he tried to escape fatal assault

Stefan Zait
Stefan Zait

A Romanian fisherman was allegedly kicked about the head as he sought refuge from an unprovoked and fatal assault, the High Court heard on Friday.

Prosecutors also claimed the man accused of 45-year-old Stefan Zait’s murder was heard shouting racist abuse as he left the scene of the attack in Ardglass, Co Down.

Details emerged as Jason Carr, 20, was granted temporary bail to attend family christenings.

Mr Zait died on May 24 - two days after being taken to hospital with head injuries, including a blood clot to the brain and suspected fractured jaw.

Carr, of Castle Heights in the village, denies charges of murder and attempted burglary with intent to commit grievous bodily harm to the fisherman.

Crown lawyer Kate McKay said he was allegedly involved in a physical altercation at the deceased’s Crewhill Court home on May 22.

Mr Zait did not fight back, she submitted, but instead went to the Strangford Road looking for refuge.

It was claimed Carr followed him and continued the attack in a garden outside another property at Lighthouse Cove.

“He (the deceased) was heard yelling for help by the occupant of that address as he trying to get to the front door to escape the assault,” the prosecutor said.

Based on witness accounts, she alleged Carr punched Mr Zait with both fists about the head in excess of five times.

“The injured party didn’t fight back, became unsteady on his feet and then fell to the ground,” Mrs McKay continued.

“What seems to have done severe damage to this unfortunate man was a deliberate step back noted by witnesses and then a kick to the face, described as powerful, while he was prostrate on the ground.”

Further blows were then allegedly inflicted after he lost consciousness, the court heard.

Mrs McKay added: “Several witnesses say they saw the defendant stage this unprovoked attack, and said at no time did the deceased fight back.”

Claiming Carr was then driven away by friends, the barrister further contended: “He was heard to shout ‘dirty foreigner b******’.”

When paramedics arrived on the scene the fisherman was initially unresponsive, but managed to identify himself before losing consciousness again.

He was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital, but passed away two days later.

Carr wanted compassionate release to attend the baptism of two young relatives on Sunday.

His lawyer, Sean Doherty, stressed he has not previously applied for bail so that Mr Zait’s family can grieve in peace.

Mr Justice McCloskey was also told the accused suffered bereavement following the sudden death of a younger brother.

Granting temporary release on tight conditions, the judge said it had been a “marginal” decision.

He also acknowledged both the tragedy suffered by Carr’s family and “the appalling death of this Romanian man who, on the prosecution case, was an entirely innocent victim of a brutal, vicious and sustained assault which, on the prosecution case, has a quite shameful racist dimension also.”