THE man accused of the murder of a Limerick rugby player in a case of mistaken identity admitted to gardai that he had chased him and shot him in the head.
Barry Doyle (25), of Portland Row in Dublin and Hyde Road in Limerick, also said in interviews he had never met victim Shane Geoghegan before and described him as "an innocent man".
Garryowen rugby captain Mr Geoghegan (28) was shot five times in the head and upper body in the early hours of November 9, 2008, at the Clonmore Estate, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, Limerick. Mr Doyle denies the charge of murder.
As the trial opened yesterday at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Geoghegan's mother Mary and her son Anthony sat in courtroom six, looking drained. Jenna Barry, Mr Geoghegan's girlfriend, was also present, flanked by family and friends.
Sitting opposite, Mr Doyle looked intently into the middle distance, almost motionless.
Mary Geoghegan sighed deeply at intervals as prosecution barrister Tom O'Connell began his opening statement.
If the prosecution can prove Mr Doyle was Mr Geoghegan's killer, "sure as night follows day he is guilty of murder", Mr O'Connell informed the jury.
On the day of his death, Mr Geoghegan had been playing a rugby match for Garryowen against their rivals Shannon.
After the game, he went to a friend's house, where they watched an international rugby match between Ireland and Canada; they had a few drinks and he set off for home shortly before 1am.
Ms Barry, who had lived with Mr Geoghegan at the Clonmore Estate, received a text from him at 12.54am and shortly afterwards, heard shots being fired. She looked out and saw a person in a navy hooded sweatshirt run toward a car and hop in through a sliding door.
Other people in the estate also heard the shots, screams and saw the getaway car leave the estate.
Mr O'Connell told the jury that State Pathologist Marie Cassidy would give evidence to the trial about the extent of the injuries sustained by Mr Geoghegan, who was shot five times -- to the back of the head, the left shoulder, the right upper arm, across the abdomen and in the back.
The bullet to the head penetrated the brain stem, which Prof Cassidy would say would have rendered Mr Geoghegan incapable of movement and caused him to collapse and die "rapidly".
Gardai arrested Mr Doyle on suspicion of murder on February 24, 2009, in a search of a house on Hyde Road, Limerick.
In interviews, he made a "series of admissions", including admitting the shooting; burning his clothes after the shooting; firing seven or eight shots; following Mr Geoghegan into a back garden in a house in the Clonmore estate where the body was subsequently found and shooting Mr Geoghegan in the head.
The trial before Mr Justice Paul Carney continues.