Saturday 19 August 2017

Pigeon enthusiast allegedly shot dead by man in drag, drove friend's car to club on the day he died

The scene of the shooting, inset, Keith Walker
The scene of the shooting, inset, Keith Walker

Eimear Cotter

A pigeon racing enthusiast allegedly shot dead by a man in drag outside a pigeon club drove his friend’s car over to the club because his friend was banned from driving at the time, a jury has heard.

Keith Walker brought his friend Jason O’Connor’s pigeons over to Blanchardstown Pigeon Racing Club in Clonsilla because the birds were taking part in a race the next day.

He and Mr O’Connor loaded the birds into Mr O’Connor’s partner’s car – a black Toyota Avensis – and Mr Walker drove over to the club.

Christopher McDonald (34), from the East Wall area in Dublin 1, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 36-year-old Keith Walker on June 12, 2015.

Victim Keith Walker was shot up to 18 times in the attack
Victim Keith Walker was shot up to 18 times in the attack

It is the prosecution case that Mr McDonald disguised himself as a woman and shot Mr Walker 18 times with a sub machine gun. Mr Walker died at the scene as a result of multiple gunshot wounds to his head and body.

Jason O’Connor’s statement to gardai was read into evidence by prosecution lawyer Denis Vaughan Buckley SC this morning.

Mr O’Connor said he had known Keith Walker for two years, and the pair had become close as they both had a big interest in pigeons.

He said he’d become friends because he’d loaned Mr Walker a female pigeon, or hen, and he’d successfully bred off that bird and the chicks had gone very well for him.

Mr O’Connor said he had been living in Clondalkin, but had moved back to Blanchardstown with his partner the previous year.

He said he kept up his friendship with Mr Walker, and Keith would regularly come to his house and help him with his birds.

Mr O’Connor said there was a pigeon race in Mallow in Cork and a second one in Penzance in Cornwall that weekend, and Keith had come over to help him with his birds.

He said Mr Walker wasn’t racing any birds that weekend.

The pair had planned to travel to Manchester on the Saturday to see a man about buying pigeons.

Mr O’Connor told gardai that Keith and his son arrived at his house and he helped him to load the birds into his (Mr O’Connor) partner’s car.

Keith then drove the car, a black Toyota Avensis, over to the pigeon club.

Mr O’Connor said he couldn’t drive because he was banned for 10 years at the time.

He also told gardai he didn’t go to the pigeon club with Mr Walker because he was “bo**ix tired”. He said he’d gotten no sleep the previous night because he had been “fighting with me mott”, who was on holidays in Spain.

Mr O’Connor said he rang Keith and then text him to tell him what birds to enter into the competitions. However, there was no response from him and when he heard an ambulance he started to get worried.

He rang another friend who told him Mr Walker was dead.

Mr O’Connor described Keith as “a decent fella”, saying his only interest was in his pigeons.

He told gardai he was “still in shock” and “totally devastated”.

Mr O’Connor also told gardai they could download any CCTV footage they needed from his home.

The jury has also been hearing evidence of the first responders at the scene.

Ian Duffy was the station officer at Blanchardstown Fire Station on the evening in question. He said the fire tender was dispatched to Shelerin Road shortly after 6pm. He said there was a gentleman on the ground, and there was a traumatic injury to his head.

Mr Duffy said his colleagues did an initial examination of the patient, and the assessment was that his condition was not compatible with life.

Emergency responder Alan Murphy said he opened up the defibrillator to see if there were signs of life, but there were none.

The jury heard there were a lot of people around, and the members of Dublin Fire Brigade tried to keep people back.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy.

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