independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Woman saw hooded gunman coming through garden in dark clothes, court hears

Shay O'Byrne and girlfriend Sharon Rattigan

A woman has given evidence in the trial of a 30-year-old man accused of murder that she struggled with a hooded gunman after she and her partner were shot.

Eugene Cullen of Derry Road, Crumlin has pleaded not guilty to murdering Seamus O' Byrne (27) at Tymon Park North, Tallaght, on March 13, 2009.

The prosecution alleges that Mr Cullen was one of four men who, leading up to the incident, were involved in plotting, planning and executing the murder.

Sharon Rattigan told the Central Criminal Court she was living with her partner and two children in Tymon Park North for a year.

She told Mr Alex Owens SC, prosecuting she and her partner planned to go out that night and she was going to leave her son down to her mother’s house to be babysat.

She said she put her son in the baby seat of the cars while Mr O’Byrne had just closed the hall door.

Ms Rattigan told the court she saw a man coming up the garden in dark clothes pulling up his hood and said she saw a gun in his right hand.

“He turned at Seamus and started shooting his gun,” she said.

Ms Rattigan said she heard five bangs and when she ran to try and stop him she was shot in the leg.

“When I ran at him he shot me in the leg then I grabbed him because I thought he was going to shoot me again,” she said.

She said she grabbed the gun and they struggled and fell over the garden wall.

Ms Rattigan said he kept hitting her over the head with the gun and he was saying: “give me the gun ya bitch”.

“He was whacking off me head,” she told the court.

She told the court she saw his face as he was getting over the wall.

“He was very pale and his eyes were bulging at me,” she said.

Ms Rattigan said as soon as she got the gun she threw it in the front seat of her car and that the man ran off.

“It felt like it went on for ages,” she said.

Ms Rattigan said she tried to help Mr O’ Byrne who was lying on the ground.

She was taken to hospital by ambulance but did not know her partner was dead at that time.

A nextdoor neighbour Elizabeth Cafolla told the court she noticed the sensor light was on in her driveway when she drove home that evening.

She said Ms Rattigan was in the driveway of her own house.

Ms Cafolla said Ms Rattigan was screaming that she and Mr O’ Byrne had been shot.

She said she saw Mr O’Byrne lying on the ground making gurgling sounds and she tried to lend assistance to him.

Her husband Tony Cafolla gave evidence he was watching television in the sitting room of his house and he heard three or four bangs.

He told Mr Owens he and his son heard a scuffle outside when his wife was coming in the driveway.

Mr Cafolla said he heard Ms Rattigan say to his wife: “Please help, I think he’s dead, he’s dead.”

He said he rang the emergency services.

Their son Anthony Cafolla told Mr Owens he was in his bedroom when he heard a thudding noise then four or five bangs fairly close together.

A man has gone on trial accused of knowingly participating in the murder of a father in front of his partner and infant son in Tallaght five years ago.

In his opening speech, Mr Owens told the court that Mr O'Byrne was killed by four or five pistol shots at 8:15 pm as he was leaving his house on the date in question.

He said the prosecution's case was not that Mr Cullen was the gunman. A man from Bray, Garret O'Brien, who has since been convicted, was brought in to do that job.

Counsel said Mr Cullen was accused of being a knowing participant in the incident who had rendezvoused at The Red Cow Moran's Hotel with a number of plotters for the purpose of setting out to plan and execute the murder.

His alleged role was that of lookout, in a nearby getaway car that left the scene when things went wrong, the court was told.

Mr Cullen was also accused of purchasing a can of petrol on at a service station for the purpose of burning out the getaway vehicle.

The court heard that Ms Rattigan tackled the gunman disarmed him and in doing so was shot with a bullet that ended up in the deceased.

When things went wrong, counsel said, the other men “skeddadled,” and “left Mr O'Brien to leg it for himself”.

He said the prosecution will make a case that all of the evidence taken together points inexorably to the guilt of Mr Cullen for his role in the murder. “It's up to you to decide whether we prove that”, counsel said.

The trial, which is expected to last four weeks, continues before Mr Justice Barry White and a jury of five men and seven women.

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