Sunday 9 December 2018

Car dealer gives evidence of selling car to Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan, court hears

Victim Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan pictured with long-time friend Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch
Victim Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan pictured with long-time friend Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch

Alison O’Riordan

A car dealer has given evidence of selling a car to Noel ‘Duck Egg’ Kirwan just over a week before he was shot dead in it outside his Dublin home.

Mr Kirwan was sitting in his new car, a Ford Mondeo, at St Ronan’s Drive, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 on the evening of December 22nd, 2016 when a gunman shot him six times with a Makarov handgun which was later recovered at the scene.

The 62-year-old, a “long-time” friend of Gerry “the Monk” Hutch, suffered eight gunshot wounds in total to his head, right arm, chest and abdomen. The three-judge court has heard that the murder of Mr Kirwan arose from a "notorious feud" between two criminal factions but the deceased had no connection with either side.

The deceased’s partner, Bernadette Roe, was in the passenger seat of his car at the time of the attack. They had just returned from a Christmas lunch in a restaurant in Crumlin with Ms Roe’s daughter.

Jason Keating (27), of Lower Main Street, Rush, Co Dublin has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Kirwan.

John Dunne, a car dealer with TBCS Ltd in Clondalkin, told prosecuting counsel Paul Greene SC that a customer rang him and told him that his stepfather Noel Kirwan was looking for a car.

Mr Dunne gave evidence that he met Mr Kirwan on December 10 and a deal was made to trade in his BMW X5 and purchase the Ford Mondeo. The witness said Mr Kirwan put down a deposit on the Ford Mondeo before it was sent off to be serviced as there was a blow to the exhaust.

Mr Kirwan returned to collect the Ford Mondeo on December 13, the court heard, and the BMW was sent off to Merlin Car Auctions in Naas.

The witness testified that he did not know Mr Kirwan apart from this transaction and the BMW had not been sold by Merlin Car Auctions when gardai came looking for it in January 2017.

Under cross-examination by Michael Bowman SC, defending, Mr Dunne agreed that he had sent many cars to Merlin Car Auctions in the previous months.

Kenneth Fitzsimons, an auction manager for Merlin Car Auctions, gave evidence that three car auctions take place on a weekly basis at his business where the public can view the vehicles. Mr Fitzsimons agreed with Mr Greene that the public do not have to give notice they are coming in and none of their details are taken unless they buy a car. However, he confirmed that a CCTV system is in place on the premises.

The witness testified that a BMW X5 arrived on his premises on December 16 from a business run by the previous witness, Mr Dunne and Merlin regularly conduct auctions on behalf of car dealers. A history check is done on the car before it goes into the system to be sold, he said.

The BMW did not get a chance to go to auction as a garda came to remove it for inspection on January 10 2017, commented Mr Fitzsimons. The BMW was returned to Merlin Car Auctions on January 29 and it was ultimately sold in February.

Under cross-examination by Mr Bowman, Mr Fitzimons said Merlin Car Auctions is the largest in the country with considerable interest from the public and last year they cleared 10,000 cars. The witness agreed that it is not uncommon for people to come and have a look at the cars and then return a few days later nor is it out of the ordinary for people to look at a car and not buy it. He denied he had "a log" of staff who had engaged with the BMW.

Sergeant Damien Gannon has previously given evidence that he found a 'Gotek 7' electronic tracking device underneath Mr Kirwan’s Ford Mondeo on December 23. It was covered in black rubber and was attached to the undercarriage of the vehicle with two very strong magnets, he said.

It is the prosecution’s case that this electronic tracking device had first been put under Mr Kirwan’s BMW X5 car on November 8 which was tracking his movements.

However, when Mr Kirwan traded in the BMW for a Ford Mondeo on December 13 the tracker pinged from a car sales address in Clondalkin which the prosecution say is of “some significance”.

In his opening address, Mr Greene indicated that gardai established in the course of their investigation that the BMW car was moved to a car dealership in Naas and the tracker pinged from there until December 20. The prosecution claim the device was moved on December 20 and by December 21 it was again pinging at St Ronan’s Drive in Clondalkin.

Niall Ducken, a mechanic, gave evidence that he bought a green Renault Megane "to sell on" in August 2016. He advertised the car online, the court heard, before he sold it to Jason Keating. "I had never met Mr Keating before or since," he added.

Earlier, the non-jury court saw a vehicle registration certificate for a Renault Megane car issued in the name of Jason Keating. Mr Greene said in his opening speech that this car was captured on CCTV entering Merlin Car Auctions on December 20.

Annemarie Lennon, who works with DPD Couriers, told Mr Greene that her company was requested to pick up a parcel from Gotek in Calais in France on October 13, 2016 and deliver it to Hinckley in the UK. The parcel with a unique tracking number was then delivered to "The Spy Shop" in Leeds on October 17, she said, and signed for electronically by a named person.

The trial continues on Tuesday before Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Sinead Ni Chualachain and Judge Cormac Dunne.

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