FROM JOHN SMITHSON IN READING: A DONEGAL man who has admitted battering a man to death with a hammer had no motive for killing him, his trial has been told.

Shaleem Amar died from head injuries after being epeatedly hit with hammers at his home near Ascot, England on November 17 last year.

Donegal Town man Robert ‘Derek’ Johnston, his two sons Tom and Ben and his friend Shaun Matthews, all from Cambridgeshire, deny murdering Mr Amar, 33.

Johnston, 57, was Mr Amar’s business partner and has already told the trial here at Reading Crown Court that he hit him with a hammer in self-defence after a row over money.

The trial has also heard how police found Mr Amar covered in 50kgs of sand in the back of Mr Johnston’s van. He later died of his injuries.

Martin Heslop QC, defending Johnston’s 25-year-old son Tom, said no motive had been found for the killing.
In fact, he said, emails between them before the killing had “demonstrated affection” for him.

“Let’s be realistic, if you may, members of the jury. People don’t go and kill somebody else in a premeditated operation without some reason for doing so,” said the defence lawyer.

“If it was premeditated to go and kill him, then why didn’t they do so? Why didn’t they kill him?

“Why did they move a man who’s alive into the van? Why attack him at his house?

“If they were going to kill him, why did they wait so long? You’d expect them to be in and out as quickly as possible in order to prevent them being caught.”

He said Tom Johnston’s “mere presence” in the van and at the time of the attack “do not in themselves prove anything”.

The court has previously heard how Derek Johnston had bought three hammers, four pairs of gloves, bags, a wheelbarrow, torch and bags of sand on the day before the killing.

This was not a sign of guilt, said Mr Heslop. It was unlikely the defendant would purchase such items for a premeditated killing from a shop where he was a regular customer for 20 years.

The trial continues.

At hearing

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