Paul Retallick murder trial: Initial blows 'were made in self defence'
The first blows in a fatal attack were dealt in self defence against a “violent” man who had threatened a police officer, a jury heard this week.
Bristol Crown Court was told that Lee McGinty, 25, acted lawfully when he first attacked Paul Retallick, 35, on September 16 last year.
In his closing speech, Lee McGinty’s defence counsel Mike Fitton said the defendant had intended to take control of Mr Retallick with a pre-emptive strike when he found him hiding in a wardrobe in his sister Heidi’s home.
Mr Fitton told the jury: “You know what Paul was like.
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“He has been the subject of a county court order to be excluded from Heidi’s home.
“The struggle that happens when Lee finds Paul happens very fast and our case, on behalf of Lee, is what he does in that first incident, in that first fight with Paul, is lawful.
“He is acting in self defence and reacting to discovering a violent man.”
Mr Fitton referred the jury to a document listing Mr Retallick’s criminal convictions.
In 2005 Mr Retallick threatened to cut a police officer with a piece of broken glass, the court heard.
Mr Retallick had also assaulted Miss McGinty and broken her nose, spat in her face and verbally abused her during a time when they were “a couple at war,” Mr Fitton said.
The trial heard that Lee McGinty “did not mess around” because the attack was in defence of himself, his sister and his father, the co-accused, Michael McGinty.
Mr Fitton said that while Lee McGinty accepted that he caused Mr Retallick’s death, he did not accept that he acted unlawfully in the first stages.
He said he had acted in self defence then lost control after seeing injuries on Miss McGinty’s arms.
Mr Fitton said: “Heidi remembers Lee saying, when he ‘lost it’ in her terms, to Paul ‘you hurt my f****** sister’.”
Mr Fitton said those words were “crucial” to the defence of loss of control. He invited the jury to return a verdict of guilty of manslaughter, but not guilty of murder for Lee McGinty.
But Peter Coombe, prosecuting, said that both Lee and Michael McGinty had gone to Miss McGinty’s house with the intention to “cause really serious harm” to Mr Retallick.
He said the jury should return a verdict of guilty of murder if they agreed that the defendants had either intended to kill or seriously harm Mr Retallick. Mr Coombe said he did not accept the loss of control defence.
He said: “The prosecution say that Lee McGinty’s actions were spawned not by a loss of control, but motivated by a desire for retribution and revenge.”
Mr Coombe referred to evidence from Miss McGinty where she said Lee McGinty wanted to pay Mr Retallick back for breaking his dad’s ribs. Miss McGinty said both defendants were “gunning for Paul”, the jury heard.
Mr Coombe said the father and son had suspected Mr Retallick was “back on the scene” and had gone to the house with the intention of catching him. He said they wanted to cause him harm and used the excuse of delivering furniture.
Mr Coombe told the court they both “hated” Mr Retallick and Lee McGinty displayed this attitude after his father had changed his mind and said “that’s enough.”
He said: “Lee says he then became concerned and he felt for a pulse and thought he felt one. He dragged him into the light so he could see better.
“If he had simply lost control and behaved in a way wholly out of character, and then became concerned about Paul Retallick’s wellbeing – why is it he treats him like this?
“He drags him face down in his own blood and once he has done that doesn’t even bother to turn him over so he can breathe more easily. What does that tell you about Lee McGinty’s disposition to Paul Retallick on that night?”