Tuesday 19 September 2017

Witness lunges at man accused of 'disguising himself as woman' and shooting dead racing pigeon enthusiast

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

Eimear Cotter

A witness lunged at a murder accused who allegedly disguised himself as a woman and shot dead a racing pigeon enthusiast with a sub-machine gun in a car park outside a pigeon club.

Jason O’Connor was walking towards the witness box in Courtroom 6 in the Criminal Courts of Justice this afternoon when he went for murder accused Christopher McDonald (34), who was sitting in the dock with his back to him.

Mr McDonald, from the East Wall area of Dublin 1, has pleaded not guilty before the Central Criminal Court to the murder of 36-year-old Keith Walker at Blanchardstown Racing Pigeon Club in Clonsilla on June 12, 2015.

It is the prosecution case that Mr McDonald disguised himself as a woman and shot Mr Walker 18 times with a sub machine gun.

A woman sitting in the body of the courtroom shouted “please Jay don’t” as four prison officers held Mr O’Connor back.

Mr O’Connor and Keith Walker were friends and the jury earlier heard that Mr Walker had driven Mr O’Connor’s partner’s car to the pigeon club.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy asked Mr O’Connor if he was prepared to behave in a civilised manner, and he said “yeah, he’s the one on trial, not me”.

The judge warned him that he had powers to deal with people who do not behave in a civilised manner.

The jury of six men and six women was led away from the courtroom.

When they returned, Judge McCarthy said the jury has to decide the case on the evidence in a “rational and calm manner” and the accused enjoys the presumption of innocence.

The judge said the behaviour witnessed by the jury was “quite disrespectful to the accused”.

In his evidence, Stuart Kane said he was standing outside the club talking to other club members when he heard someone shout “hitman”. They all looked around, and he saw a woman pull a gun out and start shooting. They all just “hit the floor”, he said.

Mr Kane said the shooter was wearing a black wig, as well as black sunglasses and a long black dress “or something like that”.

He said he didn’t know Mr Walker personally but had seen him the previous week with Mr O’Connor.

He said he saw Mr Walker fall to the ground, and the shooter running backwards towards the entrance gate.

He said he rang 999 but passed over the phone to another individual when he was asked for the location of the pigeon club. He said he was in shock.

Another pigeon club member Terry Sutcliffe also said he heard someone shout “hitman” and he turned, could “see someone pull something out” and he jumped behind a parked van.

Mr Sutcliffe said he heard noises which sounded like “a load of fire crackers”. He also thought he saw shells hitting the ground or wall.

When he came out from behind the van Mr Sutcliffe said he saw Mr Walker lying on the ground. He went over to him and saw that he was dead, and he had a hole in his forehead.

Mr Sutcliffe said he rang Mr Walker’s friend Jason O’Connor, whose car Mr Walker had been driving, and told him that Mr Walker had been shot.

Earlier, in his opening speech to the jury, prosecution counsel Denis Vaughan Buckley SC said that on the day he died Mr Walker left his home in Clondalkin with his six-year-old son and went to the home of Jason O’Connor in Blanchardstown.

The two men had met through their interest in racing pigeons.

He said the men sat down, had a cup of tea and discussed what pigeons Mr O’Connor was going to put forward for a racing competition that weekend.

Mr Vaughan Buckley sad the men then organised the birds into carrier baskets and Mr Walker loaded the birds into Mr O’Connor’s partner’s car, a black Toyota Avensis.

Mr Walker then drove Mr O’Connor’s partner’s car to the racing pigeon club.

The jury heard that Mr Walker arrived at the pigeon club at 5.48pm, and CCTV footage shows him standing in the car park outside the club talking to other members.

Mr Vaughan Buckley said it is the prosecution case that at 6.01pm Mr McDonald, dressed as a woman, walked into the car park, removed an automatic firearm from his handbag, ran the last few minutes towards Mr Walker and then discharged the weapon multiple times.

Mr Vaughan Buckley said Mr Walker was fatally wounded, and died at the scene.

The jury was told it will be shown CCTV footage of the killing.

The court heard that the killer was a man dressed as a woman, was wearing a long black wig, black leggings, a black cardigan and was carrying a dark handbag. He was also wearing make-up.

Mr Vaughan Buckley said the jury will also be shown CCTV footage from a nearby supermarket which shows a man wearing the same clothes, but without the wig, soon after the alleged murder.

He said it will be for the jury to come to the conclusion if the man, Mr McDonald, who was filmed in the supermarket was the man who killed Mr Walker.

Mr Vaughan Buckley also said Professor Marie Cassidy conducted a post-mortem on Mr Walker’s body. He said she will give evidence that Mr Walker died due to multiple gunshot wounds to his head and body.

Mr Vaughan Buckley said Prof Cassidy will give evidence that 18 bullets struck Mr Walker’s body.

He said the jury will hear from Mr O’Connor as well as other members of the pigeon club who were talking to Mr Walker when he was shot.

There will also be forensic evidence which will show that gunshot residue on a wig and gloves found by gardai were worn by the shooter.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of six men and six women.

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