Thursday 17 January 2019

Bray Boxing Club shooting: Gardaí investigate history of getaway vehicle as lead on registration plates revealed

  • Gardaí to officially warn Pete Taylor there is an active threat to his life
  • Probe into Bray gym murder focuses on van discovery and CCTV
  • Possible lead from registration plates on getaway vehicle revealed
  • 'We’re glad he’s going to be okay, and we all love him' - Katie's mother
Pete Taylor pictured in Bray Boxing club. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Pete Taylor pictured in Bray Boxing club. Picture; Gerry Mooney

Conor Feehan, Ken Foy and Robin Schiller

GARDAI investigating the shooting at Bray Boxing Club are trying to establish the history of the getaway van used by the killer after information emerged that a similar vehicle with the same registration was written-off in the UK last year.

The silver VW Caddy Maxi was parked on the Pigeon House Road, Ringsend, following the shooting, and a man was seen taking a bike from the back of it and cycling away.

The van had Northern Irish registration plates that come from a vehicle fitting the description of the Caddy.

However, information obtained by the Herald shows that a silver VW Caddy with that registration was written-off by an insurance company last summer.

Pete Taylor (left) was injured in the attack, while innocent grandfather Bobby Messett (50) was killed in the shooting
Pete Taylor (left) was injured in the attack, while innocent grandfather Bobby Messett (50) was killed in the shooting

This means the van was either repaired and put back on the road or its registration number was used on false plates on a similar make, model and colour of van.

Gardai will try to match the vehicle identification number from the VW Caddy with the vehicle registered to that plate to establish if it was fitted with false plates or is indeed the same van that was written-off.

Going by the registration plates, the van was first registered on March 30, 2010 in the UK. It was sold in September of that year and had one owner since then.

However, on July 20 last year the vehicle was written-off by an insurance company after it was extensively damaged.

Records show it was a Category C write-off, meaning the insurer decided it was uneconomical to repair the damage

There was nothing stopping the owner repairing the vehicle and returning it to the road.

It did not appear damaged while parked on Pigeon House Road.

Gardai will establish if the vehicle was stolen or sold recently and what its movements have been in the past few weeks.

As no effort was made to burn it out, it could contain a wealth of potential forensic information that could help identify the gunman.


Meanwhile, gardaí are expected to officially warn boxing coach Pete Taylor there is an active threat against his life and offer him personal security advice as their investigation into the Bray gym attack continues.

Officers interviewed Mr Taylor, the father of Olympic boxing champion Katie Taylor, while he was being treated in St Vincent's Hospital on Tuesday night, but he was "groggy" due to the effects of medication. They expect to speak to him in far more detail in the coming days.

Detectives in Bray, supported by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI), are probing if a hitman from Dublin's north-inner city was involved in the shooting.

Gardaí believe a dangerous Bray-based drugs gang is at the centre of the gun attack in which innocent fitness fanatic Bobby Messett (50) was murdered.

Officers are investigating a number of theories, including claims that the gun attack was only intended as an act of intimidation.

Officers yesterday continued to search for the handgun used in the attack, in which Mr Taylor (57) suffered a non-life-threatening injury when a bullet entered his chest after it exited his arm.

He continued to receive treatment in hospital.

Katie's mother Bridget spoke to last night.

“We’re glad he’s going to be okay, and we all love him,” she said.

Bridget said their hearts go out to the family of Bobby Messett.

“I can’t imagine what they are going through. We are finding it hard enough here today but it is so much worse for his family, our hearts go out to them,” she said.

She could think of no reason why the club or anyone in it would be targeted. “I have no idea. We’re all shocked,” she said.

Bridget also said she had no idea why the gym would be targeted.

“We don’t know anything yet. The children are with Pete in hospital. We are all very distressed,” she said.

Mr Messett joined Bray Boxing Club, also known as Taylor Made Boxing Gym, in 2010 and they said today he will be sorely missed by those who knew him.

A manhunt continued for the gunman who murdered Mr Messett when he shot him in the head and also wounded Ian Britton (35), who was shot three times in the leg.

"A number of different scenarios are being looked at," a source said.

"The geography alone of where the van was abandoned indicates the suspected gunman may be from the north-inner city because of analysis of previous crimes."

It is understood Gardaí have not yet formally identified a suspect from that area, but are continuing inquiries into a number of known criminals who have been linked to firearms crimes in the past.

Detectives will take a detailed statement from Mr Taylor in the coming days and are also expected to give him a formal warning about an active threat to his life. His girlfriend Karen Brown maintained a vigil at his bedside yesterday.

aren Brown 003 copy (Read-Only).jpg
Pete Taylor’s girlfriend Karen Brown arriving at hospital to visit him

He is expected to be issued with a Garda Information Message, or GIM, and given detailed security advice about his movements.

There is no suggestion that Mr Taylor or the other men shot in the gym have any involvement in crime.

"The reality is that Mr Taylor is very lucky to be alive and more people could also easily have been hit in this truly reckless attack - there were over 15 people in the gym," a source said last night.

"This is a very fluid and complicated investigation that has many strands to it and a number of theories are being explored and have not yet been discounted," he said


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