Court

A 22-year-old man was this afternoon remanded in custody when he appeared before Lincoln Crown Court accused of murder.

Declan Grant, of St Mary’s Street, Lincoln, is accused of the murder of Darren Munnelly, 46, who was found with fatal injuries in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Mr Munnelly was discovered after emergency services were called to a property in Carr Street close to Lincoln city centre at 18 minutes past midnight on Sunday morning.

Darren Munnelly was a much-loved and very well-respected member of the community in Lincoln.

He was taken to hospital with a serious head injury but later pronounced dead.

Grant, who was wearing a grey sweatshirt and grey jogging bottoms, was flanked in the dock by two security officers.

He spoke only to confirm his name during the hearing which lasted less than two minutes.

Tributes line the ground outside flats on Carr Street, where Darren Munnelly was found fatally injured. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

There was no application for bail and Grant was remanded in custody to appear back before the Crown Court on August 31 for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

Judge John Pini QC told him: “I’m adjourning this case for a plea and trial preparation hearing. That will take place on August 31. In the mean time you will remain where you are.”

The 22-year-old man accused of murdering 46-year-old Darren Munnelly has appeared in court today for an initial hearing.

Declan Grant, of St Mary’s Street, Lincoln, was arrested and charged with murder after Darren Munnelly was found with a head injury outside a flat on Carr Street at 12.18am on Sunday, July 25.

Darren’s injury proved to be fatal as he sadly died in hospital shortly after being found by emergency services.

Darren could always be seen with a smile on his face.

The murder accused appeared at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday morning. He spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth.

He has again been remanded in custody ahead of a Lincoln Crown Court appearance at a later date.

Darren wore his Irish heritage and his love for Manchester United on his sleeve. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

Floral tributes have continued to be placed at the scene of the crime, paying homage to victim Darren’s Irish roots and his love for Manchester United Football Club.

Emotional notes accompany the flowers as the Lincoln community remembers “a true westender” in the form of Darren Munnelly.

Darren was seen as “a true westender” by those who were close to him. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

Some of the flowers and messages have been left by people who admit to not knowing Darren, but were touched by the powerful response and devastation after news of his death broke.

He has been described as a “legend” of the city, who regularly sang in bars and seemed to have a warm bond with everyone he knew.

Darren Munnelly was a much-loved and very well-respected member of the community in Lincoln.

The tributes are still lining the fence on Carr Street. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

Read more: Tributes to Lincoln “hero” named locally after murder

A van driver who caused a fatal collision when he drove after just two and a half hours of sleep was jailed for over two years at Lincoln Crown Court.

Liviu-Ciprian Petrea turned directly into the path of an oncoming HGV as he made a right turn resulting in a collision in which his passenger and close friend Costin-Alin Rafaila lost his life.

Petrea had agreed to give Mr Rafaila a lift so that he could meet a relative but later admitted that driving was the last thing he wanted to do due to his lack of sleep.

Robert Underwood, prosecuting, said that the HGV was only three or four metres in front of the van when Petrea took the decision to turn right off the A16 near to Surfleet.

Petrea, who was driving a hire van because his own vehicle had broken down the day before, only got to bed at 3am on the day of the collision.

Mr Underwood said “He had to be up again by 5.30am in order to rendezvous with his boss at a depot in Peterborough.

“In 24 hours he only had two and a half hours sleep. That sleep deprivation was a significant factor in this fatal accident.”

Petrea worked his shift as a delivery driver before agreeing to drive his friend Mr Rafaila, to Holbeach to pick up a relative.

“It was the last thing he wanted to do. He was so tired but felt obliged to help his friend.

“Neither Petrea nor his passenger was wearing a seat belt. He moved into the centre turning lane to turn right. He was in the lane moving slowly. There was no indicating.

“Then for reasons which are almost inexplicable, as the lorry must have been within three or four metres of the van, he turned across into the path of the lorry. That fatally injured Mr Rafaila and seriously injured the defendant.

“There is no explanation as to why he did not see the lorry. It was a huge vehicle.”

Petrea claimed he was blinded by the low sun, but Mr Underwood said that the defendant’s lack of sleep was the main factor in causing the collision.

Petrea himself was seriously injured. He suffered seven broken ribs and spent nine days in hospital.

Liviu-Ciprian Petrea, 31, of no fixed address, admitted causing the death of Costin-Alin Rafaila by driving dangerously on the A16 on November 29, 2019.

He was given a 30 month jail sentence and disqualified from driving for three years.

Petrea, who has spent over a year in custody on remand, will be deported to Germany at the end of his sentence to serve a jail term previously imposed in his absence for an offence of assault.

Judge John Pini QC told him: “You had about two and a half hours sleep. You were to say in interview that giving your friend a lift to visit some relatives was the last thing you wanted to do because you were so tired but you agreed to do it. That decision cost your friend his life.

“There is some evidence that the sun was low in the sky but the principal factor is that you drove when you were deprived of sleep.”

Gareth Gimson, for Petrea, said he had no other convictions either in the UK or in his native Romania.

“He has always been a hard-working man. He has lived a lot of his life in Germany. His mum and dad are in Germany and his three children live there.

“This was not an act of deliberacy. It remains an error of judgement. He will live with this guilt for a long time.”

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